Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
Damion Lee‘s MRI results were not what Bruiser Flint and Drexel wanted to hear. The junior was diagnosed with an ACL injury that will keep him out for the season, the school announced on Monday.
Lee went down in Drexel’s NIT Tip-Off Semifinal loss to Arizona, injuring the knee on a jump-stop while playing defense with about 10 minutes left in the game. He was unable to put any weight on it leaving the court.
“We all feel bad for Damion and what he is going through right now,” Drexel Bruiser Flint said in a statement. “He was going to be one of the top players in the CAA this season. We know he will work hard in his rehabilitation to be back on the court next season.”
A 6-foot-6 wing originally out of Baltimore, Lee was averaging 13.0 ppg and 4.2 rpg through the Dragons’ first five games. Last season he averaged 17.1 ppg and 5.1 rpg, earning Second Team All-CAA honors, and was named to the conference’s preseason first team this fall.
This is the second season in a row where Drexel has lost one of its starters to a season-ending injury in the non-conference portion of the schedule. Last year it was Chris Fouch who went down in the third game of the year with a broken ankle; now the Dragons are going to have to adapt to the loss of a junior who’s just 40 points shy of the 1000-point barrier. Like Fouch, Lee’s five games will account for less than 20 percent of the teams’ final game count, so he will be eligible for a medical redshirt and a fifth year of eligibility per NCAA regulations should he choose to pursue that route.
Bruiser Flint is likely to move Tavon Allen (12.5 ppg) into the starting lineup in Lee’s absence, meaning freshman guard Major Canady is going to get major reserve minutes for at least the next three games. Junior combo guard Freddie Wilson will help the teams’ depth when he becomes eligible on Dec. 15 against Davidson.
The good news for Dragons fans is that Drexel has already shown it can win without Lee. Two days after the injury, Drexel downed Alabama in the third-place game in Madison Square Garden; getting a guard in Wilson with some high-major experience at Seton Hall will also offset some of the loss in production, and no other team in the CAA has looked as good as Bruiser Flint‘s group thus far.