C.J. McCollum could return, but too late?

January, 7, 2013
1/07/13
9:30
AM ET
Despite Temple's best efforts at Kansas Sunday, the biggest hoops story of the weekend was the injury to the nation's leading scorer, Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum. McCollum left Saturday's game at VCU (a game Lehigh only barely lost, and impressively so) with an injury he suffered on a routine drive. He emerged on the bench with crutches, and was seen mouthing "my foot is broken" to a teammate on the broadcast.

And, it turns out, he was right. Lehigh coach Brett Reed didn't want to say as much after the game, but he confirmed the news Sunday:
"Recovery time is estimated at eight to 10 weeks," Lehigh coach Brett Reed told ESPN. "We are going to make sure C.J. is fully recovered and will place the highest priority on quality of care and be certain the injury has healed properly before full activity is resumed."

The good news is the injury isn't totally season ending. It could have been; it could have stretched into the offseason; it could have interfered with McCollum's lottery-level draft status. That it won't do any of those things is, as they say, the silver lining.

The question is whether McCollum's eventual return will be in time for Lehigh to make the NCAA tournament. Eight weeks puts McCollum's return near the end of February; 10 weeks puts it well into March. Lehigh may have been a bubble-type team with McCollum; without him, they will almost certainly have to win the Patriot League tournament to get to the Big Dance. And to do that, they'll have to beat Mike Muscala and Bucknell. McCollum will return. But what if it's too late?

Maybe McCollum will make it in eight weeks and will be back in plenty of time to gear up for the postseason. Or maybe it'll be an incredibly dramatic, Willis Reed-type comeback. Either way, I'll be rooting for it.

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