The Utah State basketball team will likely have to complete its season without two of its leaders.
The school announced Monday morning that junior guard Preston Medlin will be out for six to eight weeks with a fractured wrist, and senior forward Kyisean Reed will miss the rest of the year with a torn ACL. Both players injured themselves in the second half of their game against New Mexico State on Thursday.
The diagnoses are devastating to a team that has already suffered more than its share of health issues and departures. Utah State (14-3, 5-2) has only eight athletes remaining who have played minutes this season, making the preseason hopes of a Western Athletic Conference championship and an NCAA Tournament berth that much dimmer.
Medlin is the team’s leading scorer, the preseason nominee for WAC player of the year, and is averaging 16.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. So far, he’s been the team’s most prolific shooter, boasting a resume which included sending two games into overtime with buzzer-beating 3-pointers.
Reed was averaging 12.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. At many times this season, he was Utah State’s best defender, and his high-flying dunks were a momentum boost in close contests.
Now, the Aggies will have to find ways to replace two of the program’s most tenured players who averaged the most minutes on the team.
“First and foremost is our concern for Kyisean and Preston. This is as tough as it gets and we hurt for them first and our team second,” Morrill said in a school release. “We expect our players to step up and compete, as we have a lot of season left.”
The Aggies played Saturday’s game against Denver without the two, and fell 68-57. Utah State has now lost two games in a row after going on a 13-game winning streak in the first half of the season.
It has hardly been an easy season before the injuries for the Aggies. Sean Harris tore his ACL before the season, and Danny Berger had a heart episode that nearly killed him in December. Freshmen Riley Bradshaw and Quincy Bair both left early in the year.
It might be the end for Reed’s collegiate career, which was short but spectacular. The senior has already made a spot in the record books with top-10 figures in field goal percentage, blocks and blocks per game.
Utah State is likely to get more playing time out of its reserve centers at the power forward spot, in addition to starter Ben Clifford. Both Matt Lopez and Jordan Stone got significant minutes against Denver. At Medlin’s position, Utah State will swap between TeNale Roland, Spencer Butterfield and Marvin Jean.
But the minute divide puts tons of pressure almost everywhere on the court. Only at the center spot are the Aggies three men deep. It means more playing out of position, more minutes and likely a tough challenge for bench players that are now in starting roles.
Utah State next plays UT Arlington on Thursday before facing WAC leader Louisiana Tech on Saturday.
Medlin’s and Reed’s injuries leave significant holes
Preston Medlin • 16.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.0 spg, 47.4 FG percent, 39.3 3-FG percent, 36.1 mpg
Kyisean Reed • 12.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.8 bpg, 1.6 spg, 58.2 FG percent, 30.4 mpg