As the collegiate basketball world prepares for a season unlike any other, junior guard Caleb McConnell of the Rutgers men's basketball team announced that he will be taking a medical redshirt and sitting out this season. McConnell posted a statement via Instagram on Friday, saying that he is dealing with a back issue that has been affecting him for some time.
“During my time here I’ve battled through multiple injuries,” McConnell said. “Unfortunately, I am still not fully healthy. After talking it over with (head men's basketball) coach (Steve) Pikiell and my family, I have decided to redshirt this upcoming season to focus on getting 100 (percent) healthy.”
Even though the 6-foot-7-inch guard will miss his junior year, being granted a medical redshirt means that he will still have two years of eligibility left starting the 2021-22 season.
McConnell played in all 31 games last year and started 21 of them, averaging 6.7 points and 3.7 rebounds a game. He also averaged 79 percent shooting from the free-throw line, leading the Scarlet Knights in a stat that the team struggled with.
McConnell was 1 of 4 Rutgers student-athletes that averaged more than 70 percent from the line, according to sports-reference.com. The team averaged 64 percent from the field, finishing 13th out of the 14 teams in the Big Ten.
In January, the Knights played Nebraska on the road where McConnell finished a perfect 8 for 8 shooting with a game-leading 20 points. He also tallied five assists, five rebounds and two steals.
Although McConnell's loss weakens Rutgers' backcourt depth, the Knights still have four guards with experience.
Guards senior Geo Baker, junior Montez Mathis, sophomore Paul Mulcahy and senior Jacob Young all played a part in Rutgers' success last year.
McConnell showed statistical improvements in points, rebounds, assists and blocks per game his sophomore year, with his steals per game staying the same over two seasons.
“Though I am disappointed I won’t be able to go to war on the court with my brothers this year, I am excited to help lead us from the sideline and off the court,” McConnell said according to his Instagram post. “I’m looking forward to using this season to not only get healthy, but also to improve as a player, person and leader. I will be attacking my rehab each and every day to make sure I am the best possible player I can be when I return for the 2021-2022 season. Go RU!”
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