November 6, 2012 11:14:05 PM
Matthew Stevens - [email protected]
STARKVILLE -- The bad news continues to roll in for the Mississippi State University men's basketball program and first-year head coach Rick Ray.
A player Ray referred to just last month as one of the most consistent elements to his inexperienced team is now lost for the entire 2012-13 season due to a sudden injury.
University officials announced Tuesday morning freshman guard DeAndre Applewhite's will soon be forced to undergo surgery to repair a torn ACL and meniscus in his left knee. 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 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 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.
"The one thing you have with Andre Applewhite is consistency," Ray said on Oct. 10. "Andre Applewhite is a bright kid so that everything you tell him, he digests the information and he's able to carry it out. 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."
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.
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.
MSU will open the 2012-13 season Friday in the inaugural regular season contest at Trojans Arena in Troy University. The home opener at Humphrey Coliseum is Tuesday against Florida Atlantic University.