By KEVIN ROSSI
After going down clutching his knee midway through the second half of the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinal game with No. 4 Arizona, the final diagnosis on Drexel junior Damion Lee is not good for Dragons fans.
Lee will miss the remainder of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee.
Per the school’s release, head coach Bruiser Flint said, “We all feel bad for Damion and what he is going through right now. 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.”
Tough news on Dame today. He’ll be back. He’ll work to be even better
— Bruiser Flint (@ducoachflint) December 2, 2013
Prior to going down, Lee had been averaging 13.0 points, and 4.2 rebounds in 26.8 minutes per game. Lee came into his junior campaign with 895 career points. He had scored 65 points this season, leaving him 40 points short of 1,000 for his Drexel career.
Lee came into the season as a first team All-CAA selection after being named to the second team All-CAA as a sophomore and CAA Rookie of the Year as a freshman.
Dealing with injuries is nothing new for Drexel, especially at the guard position. Last season, the Dragons lost Chris Fouch in the third game of the season to a broken ankle. It forces younger guys to step in and make plays early in their career.
Sophomore guard Tavon Allen will take Lee’s place in the starting rotation. Allen is averaging 12.5 points in 27.5 minutes per game this season and started in place of Lee on Friday against Alabama. The ambidextrous Allen also appeared in 29 games for the Dragons last season (starting in seven of them).
With Allen moving into the starting rotation, freshman Major Canady will move up to the first guard off of the bench at least until Seton Hall transfer Freddie Wilson becomes eligible in the season half. Canady has appeared in all six games this season for Flint, playing in 7.0 minutes per contest. Canady has shown flashes of being an electric player on both ends but will be forced to mature quickly and avoid freshman mistakes.
With the stricter foul rules, we could figure to see senior reserve guard Stevan Manojlovic come off the bench for Flint’s Dragons. Last Friday with Lee out, Manojlovic had the warm-up shirt off, and he was ready to go after Allen and Frantz Massenat picked up three fouls apiece a little over halfway through the first half. If the guards find themselves in heavy foul trouble again, Manojlovic could find his way onto the floor. The 6-foot-5 senior has appeared in 13 career games, playing 20 minutes and scoring two points.
The Dragons open their 2013-14 home schedule on Wednesday at 7 p.m. against Cleveland State.