Florida center John Egbunu officially sidelined for entire 2017-18 season

By Adam Silverstein
March 2, 2018
Florida center John Egbunu officially sidelined for entire 2017-18 season

Image Credit: ESPN Images

As was expected considering he missed the first four months of the season, redshirt senior center John Egbunu will officially miss the entire 2017-18 campaign, the Florida Gators announced Friday.

Egbunu, who tore his ACL late in the 2016-17 season, was expected to suit up for the Gators by February but was never able to fully rehabilitate the injury after experiencing soreness and swelling throughout his recovery.

The player told reporters Friday that he had at least five procedures to drain fluid from his knee and was injected with cortisone on a number of occasions. A couple of weeks ago, Egbunu traveled to Alabama to have renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews perform a bone marrow aspiration.

The hope was that Egbunu would be able to suit up at the start of March, but he will now be sidelined another three months, ending his season and potentially his Florida basketball career.

“It’s been tough for me because I want to help this team. I feel like a part of me, I don’t want to let the fans down,” Egbunu said. “It’s disappointing for my teammates. I know it’s something that happens. It’s a part of life. I fully understand there’s a journey [ahead]. I will do whatever I can and everything in my power to make sure I’m back playing again, and I feel like this is just a little roadblock for me, and I’m gonna overcome it. I’m confident in that.”

The 6-foot-11 big man transferred to UF from South Florida following the 2013-14 season. After sitting out one campaign as mandated by NCAA rules, Egbunu started 49 of 58 games for Florida over the next two seasons. He averaged 11.5 points per game in 2015-16 and 6.6 rebounds for his Gators career, more importantly serving as a defensive forced and much-needed frontcourt piece. If healthy and able to play a full complement of minutes, he likely would have started for UF at some point late in the season.

Now head coach Mike White and fans are left to wonder not only what could have been with Egbunu but what the future brings for the Nigerian.

“I absolutely hate it for him,” White said Friday. “He’s been awesome. Love him to death. He’s worked his butt off to do everything he can.”

Egbunu plans to walk on Senior Day this Saturday when Florida hosts Kentucky, but he has not said whether it will be the end of his collegiate career. Considering he missed the entire season due to injury, Egbunu would be a legitimate candidate for a sixth year of eligibility, though the NCAA would need to approve a waiver. He could also turn pro and either play overseas or hope for a spot in the NBA G-League.

There’s no doubt that the Gators would have performed at a much higher level this season with Egbunu healthy and able to contribute. Florida was routinely outrebounded in the paint and struggled to match some taller, stronger teams it faced this season.

Egbunu’s absence, coupled with other frontcourt problems, are the reason why many believe UF to be on the NCAA Tournament bubble entering its final regular-season game. Florida (19-11, 10-7 SEC) will host Kentucky on Saturday before participating in the 2018 SEC Tournament.


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