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McDonald’s Rehab Expected To Take 7-8 Months

A decision on the 2011-12 season is still up in the air though I am not entirely sure why.

Adam Lucas caught up with injured guard Leslie McDonald on the progress of his knee rehab. It is going well but there is still a long way to go.

McDonald’s rehab has been productive. Just three weeks and five days after surgery-yes, he’s counting-he’s already walking without a brace. He measures progress in the assignments being given to him by trainer Chris Hirth and strength and conditioning coach Jonas Sahratian, and considers it a victory that he’s already being allowed to do some limited upper body and leg work in addition to riding the stationary bike.

Still, he’s many months away from transitioning from simply getting healthy to playing competitive Atlantic Coast Conference college basketball.

“The original timeframe for ACL repair is six months,” McDonald says. “I had ACL and meniscus repair, which will take a little bit longer, like seven to eight months…The doctors say I’m doing well, but they want to take precautions because you can reinjure these things easily.”

Doing the math on his rehab timeframe delivers a potential return date very late in the 2011-12 season. Right now, less than a month after the operation, it’s still much too early to speculate about any sort of role for this year’s team. Of course, McDonald has considered it. It’s what he thought about every single day after the loss to Kentucky, during a summer spent focusing on improving his ball-handling and shooting in an effort to make himself into a more consistent player.

At this point I think McDonald playing in the 2011-12 season is a long shot. If everything goes as well as it possibly could and McDonald nails the shorter estimate on rehab that still doesn’t make him available until the beginning of March. At most he would see action in two regular season games, the ACC and NCAA Tournaments. Even then McDonald is looking at a very limited role. By the time March comes around, everyone will have an idea of their minutes and roles on the team not to mention, Roy Williams often trims minutes for reserves late in the season. It makes little sense to add another player in a position the Heels are already two deep on the wings. Contrast that to Tyler Zeller’s return in 2009 on a team with limited frontcourt depth so his presence was useful although his minutes were very limited still.

Of course the ultimate decision will rest with McDonald and his family. That is how Roy rolls. Once the medical staff clears a player, Roy makes his opinion known then puts it to the player and his parents to make the ultimate decision. Regardless, I expect the final decision will be a redshirt which will help UNC going forward to get two more years from an experience shooter after half the team leaves in May, 2012.

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5 comments to McDonald’s Rehab Expected To Take 7-8 Months

  • TheUNCFan

    Redshirt! Z’s situation was unique, and I don’t see it happening any time soon. All Z had to do was stand there and take up space for a few minutes. LM would have to re-learn everything and fit into a team on the perimeter, a tall order if the ACC season is over or about over.

  • chapelhillfan

    He’s done for the year. RS him and get him ready for 2012-13. Hate it for him.

  • If I were in McDonald’s shoes, I think the only thing that would tempt me to try and play this year would be the possibility to get on the floor in the NCAA title game. Not saying that the Heels should be expected to get there, but they certainly have as good a shot as any team could hope for, and there is certainly no guarantee that the next two UNC teams will have as good a shot. He’d still get a ring, but there is a big difference between being on the team, and being in the action.

  • I wouldn’t play him late this season unless he is 100% healed, in game shape and has had significant team practice time. Going from rehab to full throttle March Madness would be quite a leap.
    How risky is that? If there’s any likelihood that more time off will improve his chances for a full recovery and/or he’s not 100% ready to play, I’d red shirt him for sure.

  • AZACCFan

    No way he can play this year. It would not be fair to the player to expect him to be a contributor this season.

    Recovering from the surgery and relearning how to play at an elete level is very tough.

    The meniscus injury almost always occurs with the ACL as the knee twists against a torn ACL. This usually does not require repair, but apparently McDonald had a more severe injury to joint surface.

    It is still quite possible for LMac to have a great playing career. But it is not going to be easy or predictable.