University of Louisville junior forward Rakeem Buckles suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee during the Cardinals’ game at Marquette on Monday and will miss the remainder of season and all of next season with his second career knee injury.
A magnetic resonance imaging test at Jewish Hospital on Tuesday revealed the damage, which was initially thought to be a hyperextended knee. Surgery will be scheduled within the next few weeks.
“I don’t think any of us could imagine this happening to such a fine young man,” said U of L Coach Rick Pitino. “All of us are just crushed. We had thought he had just hyperextended the knee when he had turned for a simple block out and it turned out to be terribly wrong. We will stay close to Rakeem so we can keep his spirits high.”
Buckles had spent months recovering from a torn ACL in his right knee suffered on Feb. 27, 2011 in a game against Pittsburgh. He had surgery to repair the knee on March 16, participated in his first individual instruction session on Nov. 9, and began practicing with the Cardinals on Nov. 24. He saw his first game action in 283 days against IUPUI on Dec. 7.
“Coming back from a second major knee surgery, Rakeem’s recovery is expected to take well over a year,” said UofL Men’s Basketball Trainer Fred Hina. “We will work with him closely on his recovery and will apply for a fifth year for him to play his final season as a Cardinal.”
He played an average of 13 minutes in the 11 games since his return, averaging 4.0 points and 3.8 rebounds as a valuable reserve. He made his only start of the season against Memphis, totaling 12 points and six rebounds in 13 minutes.
The first knee injury was one setback during a tough sophomore season in which he suffered three separate injuries that kept him off the court, also enduring a concussion and broken index finger. As a sophomore, he averaged 6.8 points and 6.1 rebounds in 16 games, including 10 starting assignments. He had ranked among the BIG EAST top ten in rebounding before he broke his finger.
Eight UofL players have missed games with injuries this season. The Cardinals, 14-5 overall and 2-4 in the BIG EAST Conference, will play their next game at Pittsburgh on Saturday at 9 p.m.