NC State basketball coach Kevin Keatts didn’t want to talk about the possibility of life without Devon Daniels after the star guard left Wedneday’s win against Wake Forest with a knee injury.
“We’re not gonna think about anybody missing time,” Keatts said following the 72-67 win that snapped a four-game ACC losing streak. “We aren’t going to start with that.”
He might not have wanted to think about it on Wednesday, but he had no choice but to do it on Thursday after it was learned that Daniels had suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and will miss the remainder of the season.
Daniels is the Wolfpack’s most experienced player who leads the team in scoring at 16.5 points per game, assists at 3.1 per game, steals at 1.7 per game and 3-pointers with 19 while ranking third on the team at 5.1 rebounds. His field goal percentage of .481 is among the top 10 in the ACC.
He had a team-leading 20 points and nine rebounds at the time of his injury, suffered when his knee buckled as he planted on a drive to the basket with 9:01 remaining in the second half.
“I’m gutted and heartbroken for Devon,” Keatts said in a statement. “Devon joined our program shortly after I was named head coach and I quickly appreciated the tenacity and relentlessness he brought into the gym every day.
“Devon built himself into one of the premier players in the ACC and with that tireless work ethic, I have no doubt that he will attack his rehab and come back even stronger. I hope all NC State fans will join me in praying for Devon and a swift recovery.”
Daniels started his career at Utah before transferring to State. He is currently in his third season with the Wolfpack.
Because the NCAA has ruled that players will not lose a year of eligibility this season because of the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it is possible for Daniels to return in 2021-22. Put having already spent five years in college ball, it is just as likely that he move on to begin a professional career.
State’s first game without Daniels is Sunday evening at Syracuse. The Wolfpack is 7-5 (3-4 ACC) this season.