Surgery unlikely for Duke’s star freshman

Kyrie Irving won’t return this season unless he’s 100 percent healthy.

"That’s the most important thing," Irving’s father, Drederick, told on Tuesday afternoon, "that he gets completely healthy."

Duke’s star freshman point guard has been out since Dec. 4, when he suffered a serious toe injury late in a victory against Butler in New Jersey.

For a while, it appeared as though surgery was a realistic possibility. However, Drederick Irving said that surgery is unlikely now — and his son will have the cast on his foot removed on Feb. 4.

"Then he’ll start the rehab process," the elder Irving said.

Duke has played nine games without Irving. Although the Blue Devils are 8-1, they clearly aren’t the same team as with their starting point guard. Duke struggled to beat Maryland at home and then lost to Florida State on the road.

Irving was averaging 17.4 points, 5.1 assists and was shooting 45 percent from long distance at the time of the injury.

With Irving, the Blue Devils are the prohibitive favorite to win back- to-back national titles.

"We’re still in a holding pattern," Drederick Irving said. "Right now it’s about Kyrie’s recovery. We’d all like him to come back, but right now we don’t know."

Irving said his son has remained upbeat for the most part despite the uncertainty of whether he’ll return this season.

"He’s always a positive guy," Irving said. "But he’s still an 18-year-old kid, and it’s taken its toll. But overall, his spirits are pretty good."