Illinois big man Thorne could be out for season with knee injury

Mike Thorne Jr. is averaging 13.4 points and a team-leading 8.4 rebounds.

Mike Granse/Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Illinois basketball coach John Groce says Mike Thorne Jr.’s left knee injury could end his season.

Groce said Tuesday that Illinois (3-4) is preparing as if the 6-foot-11-inch starting center will not be back, because the meniscus tear Thorne suffered Saturday against Iowa State ”absolutely” could be season-ending.

Thorne had surgery Monday and Groce said it is too soon to know how his recovery will go. He added that Thorne’s Type 1 diabetes could also be a factor.

Groce does not yet know whether the fifth-year senior could redshirt.

WHO'S UP, WHO'S DOWN?

Thorne is the team’s leading rebounder with 8.4 a game and is averaging 13.4 points.

Maverick Morgan, Leron Black and Michael Finke all could see more playing time in Thorne’s absence.

Illinois hosts Notre Dame (4-2) on Wednesday.