When Memphis' Adonis Thomas turned his ankle in practice on Friday, the Tigers initially assumed it wouldn't sideline the highly touted freshman for long.
Instead they learned three days later that the ankle injury will likely keep Thomas out for the rest of the season.
An MRI taken Monday night revealed Thomas has a loose "flap" of cartilage in the ankle. Thomas, his family and the Memphis coaching staff met with doctors and determined that the best course of action is for the 6-foot-6 forward to undergo surgery that will sideline him for two to three months.
"He's going to be in the game of basketball a long time so it's best to have the procedure," Memphis coach Josh Pastner told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. "It's not the injury. It's the surgery. It's going to take a little time to recover. The time he'll get back to full speed — we are planning that he will miss the rest of the season."
The absence of Thomas and Charles Carmouche (knee tendinitis) leaves the Tigers thinner at wing, which fortunately for them was their deepest position entering the season. More minutes are now available for 6-foot-9 senior Wesley Witherspoon and 6-foot-5 junior D.J. Stephens, both of whom have contributed from a reserve role this season.
Thomas had enjoyed a solid albeit not dominant freshman season so far, averaging the third most points on the team (9.7) and sinking the second highest percentage of threes behind only Carmouche. He was one of the reasons Memphis (12-5, 3-0) had righted itself with a six-game win streak after a rocky start to the season against a difficult schedule.
The Tigers have enough other weapons to survive this, especially if Witherspoon takes advantage of increased playing time and Carmouche returns and provides his usual outside shooting. Nonetheless, the loss of Thomas is a substantial blow that comes at a time when Memphis was finally starting to click.