One year ago, on this very day, Richmond Spiders leading scorer, Cedrick Lindsay, saw his college career ended in a road loss at crosstown rival VCU. The senior was averaging a team-leading 18.3 points per game in hopes of taking the Spiders back to their first NCAA tournament appearance since his freshman campaign that ended in the Sweet 16, but saw his career cut short when he suffered a torn meniscus in both knees.
Less than a year later, Lindsay signed his first contract to play professionally in Europe.
The man charged with the task of defending Lindsay on that fateful evening in Richmond will now look to him for inspiration, as Briante Weber tore both his MCL and ACL on the same court, in a game between the same two teams, almost a year later to the day, thus ending his career as a college athlete.
Weber drove the court then went down after his right knee buckled after a hard jump stop. The emotional leader and poster boy of VCU’s havoc system lay on the ground in agony before VCU coaches and trainers eventually carried him off the court. Weber returned on crutches, then went in for an MRI after the game where the severity of the damage was revealed. He was 12 steals shy of breaking the NCAA’s all-time steals record.
A crushing blow to Weber and the VCU basketball family, the black and gold must now press on without the services of the player who led the country in steals percentage all four seasons as a college athlete. He was A-10 defending Defensive Player of the Year and a legit contender for National POY.
While Weber’s injury is more serious (ACL tears typically bring a longer recovery time) than the tears suffered by Lindsay, it by no means has to be the end of his career as a basketball player.
Many successful professional ballers have suffered the same injury and returned, in some cases better than ever.
Former UCLA guard, Baron Davis, tore his ACL his freshman season, only to battle back to see his name called with the third pick in following year’s NBA Draft.
Celtics big (now OKC Thunder big), Kendrick Perkins, tore his ACL during a 2010 playoff game, then made his return after just six months of rehab.
Long-time pro, Jamal Crawford, underwent constructive surgery in 2001 after suffering an ACL tear but is averaging over 15 points this season with the LA Clippers.
“After surgery, you start rehab and start to see some progressions”, he said. “You get a little more confident as it goes along. And then the last stage is the mental part: ‘Can I still do that move? Can I still do that cut?’ The actual leg you injure ends up being stronger than the leg that’s not injured. But you don’t believe that at first. You’re scared. You doubt.”
Like Lindsay and others before him, Weber’s path has been altered but it remains just that, a path and not a dead end. Seeing the drive and passion Weber displayed over his 3.5 years as a college athlete, there’s no doubt in my mind, like Lindsay, he will return better than ever.