November 6, 2012 11:16:31 AM
STARKVILLE - Just days before the 2012-13 regular season opener the news just keeps getting worse for first-year head coach Rick Ray and the Mississippi State University men's basketball program.
Freshman guard DeAndre Applewhite's will soon be forced to undergo surgery to repair a torn ACL and meniscus in his left knee. The news was announced Tuesday morning via a university release. The injury was sustained last Friday during practice days before he was set to make his MSU and college basketball debut. Ray said Sunday after MSU's 80-74 victory over William Carey University that the Memphis native would be scheduled for an MRI the very next day. That medical scan revealed the significant damage to Applewhite's left knee.
"I'm disappointed for DeAndre because he had put in a lot of hard work and dedication to become a better basketball player," Ray said in the school release. "But I know the type of kid he is. He'll work extremely hard with his rehab, and he'll come back next year ready to go to help us become a better team."
Applewhite, a 6-foot-5 and 217-pound prospect, signed with MSU late in the fall following a stellar career at Central High School in Memphis.
In his final high school season, Applewhite helped his team post a 20-10 ledger and advanced to the Class A title game, where he scored a game-high 26 points in a loss to rival Memphis East. In the semifinals, he registered 29 points, 10 rebounds and six steals against Clarksville High School.
Following the playoffs, he was tabbed regional most valuable player and garnered all-tournament honors.
Applewhite is the second freshman MSU player and second late recruit by Ray since July to be lost for the season. In August, point guard Jacoby Davis had surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered in preseason workouts. Applewhite was one of the players Ray thought could stabilize an eight-man rotation for the Bulldogs heading into the season because of his consistency at such a young age.
"The one thing you have with Andre Applewhite is consistency. Andre Applewhite is a bright kid so that everything you tell him, he digests the information and he's able to
carry it out," Ray said on Oct. 10. "Andre Applewhite is going to play because he's able to carry what we want to do on and off the court. He is going to be that steady eddy guy that you can always count on."
The injury to Applewhite leaves MSU with just 10 active players on the roster, only eight of which are on scholarship. The loss of Applewhite, who was set to be a key backup off the bench at the shooting guard or small forward positions, likely means Ray will have to give more playing time to walk-on guard Tyson Cunningham. Cunningham, a Columbus native, had 11 minutes in Sunday's exhibition game but managed just two rebounds, an assist and two fouls in that time.
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
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