N.C. State faces the possibility of starting the basketball season without one of its most reliable players.
The school announced Thursday that Abdul-Malik Abu has a sprained knee ligament and, while it will not require surgery, no timetable for his return has been set.
Abu, a 6-8, 240-pound senior forward, averaged 11.8 points and 7.0 rebounds for the Wolfpack last season. He’s played in 101 career games with 86 starts over the last three seasons. Abu has led the Wolfpack in rebounding each of the last two seasons.
Abu’s injury is described as a grade 2 sprain of the medial collateral ligament. It is considered a partial tear and affects the stability of the knee. Such injuries typically can take up to four weeks to heal.
N.C. State’s experience lies in its frontcourt where Abu and 7-foot, 245-pound sophomore center Omer Yurtseven are back from last season. Lennard Freeman, a 6-8, 265-pound senior forward, redshirted last season due to a leg injury. He played in 103 career games, with 47 starts, in three seasons prior to his injury.
The Wolfpack does have an experienced backcourt player in Allerick Freeman, a 6-3, 210-pound graduate transfer who played the last three seasons at Baylor.
Coach Kevin Keatts said his veteran players, including Abu before his injury, have stood out the most in practice so far this month.
“I think the two Freemans have played really well,” Keatts said. “Al I think have been really, really good. Lennard and Omer have been great for each other. Malik has had his moments. What I told those guys was every day we’ve had one or two or three guys to play really well. The next day I want to go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 to play well. I want to add another guy to that bunch. But I would say the veteran guys more than the younger guys right now.”
Keatts, in his first season as N.C. State’s head coach, will lead the Wolfpack in a closed scrimmage against Campbell on Saturday. The Wolfpack play their lone exhibition on Nov. 3 against Mars Hill at PNC Arena. N.C. State opens the regular season against VMI on Nov. 10 at PNC Arena.