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Former Seton Hall basketball star Myles Powell sues school, alleges staff misled him about injury

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A former Seton Hall men's basketball star is suing the university claiming the coach and the team's medical expert allowed him to play on a serious injury, worsening his condition and dashing his hopes of a career in the NBA.

In the lawsuit, filed Wednesday in New Jersey Superior Court, 24-year-old Myles Powell claims the university, his coach, Kevin Willard, and the team's Director of Sports Medicine, Tony Testa, acted negligently by allowing him to play on a torn meniscus in his right knee, which he was told was a minor injury that would not be aggravated if he continued to play for the team during the 2019-20 season.

The lawsuit refers to Testa as an M.D. and the team's physician, but according to the university's website he does not have a medical degree and is not the team's physician.

Powell was a fan favorite and by all accounts, including his own, maintained strong relationships with Willard and Seton Hall’s staff throughout his time in South Orange, where he began his freshman year in 2016 on a sports scholarship, according to a copy of the complaint.

At the conclusion of his junior year, Powell entertained thoughts of leaving the school to enter the NBA draft, but, he claims in the suit, the team’s coaches and Powell’s father convinced him to continue until he graduated.

As an incentive, the school offered to take out an insurance policy on Powell in the event of injuries incurred through his final year with the school.

Myles Powell, seen here in a March 2020 game with Seton Hall.
Myles Powell, seen here in a March 2020 game with Seton Hall.

During the second game of the 2019-20 NCAA season, against Stony Brook College, Powell suffered an injury, which Testa told him was confined to his ankle and that he could continue to play without worsening the injury, according to the suit.

As Powell continued to play for Seton Hall that season, he felt a growing pain in his right knee. When he would question Testa about the injury, Testa advised him it was merely a bruised bone and there was no harm in continuing to play on the leg, Powell alleges.

In order to treat the knee, Testa injected Powell with medication to manage the pain and allow the plaintiff to continue playing.

In January 2020, Powell earned 2,000 career points, a milestone accomplishment for any college player, the suit claims, all but securing a spot in the NBA draft.

However, Powell’s injury was more than a bruised bone, he says, rather a torn meniscus, cartilage which acts as a cushion between a person's thigh and shin bones, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Such an injury should have kept Powell out for the remainder of the season to avoid exacerbating the injury, the suit claims.

Powell alleges Willard was aware of the advice he was given by Testa and that professionals associated with the NBA had “suspected or discovered” his untreated injury, ruining his chances in that year’s lottery.

Powell claims in the suit that Testa failed to properly diagnose and treat his injury and inform him of the risks of continued participation in the basketball season.

Likewise, he charges Willard and the university with negligence, as well as breaching their contract with him and obligation to exclude him from gameplay and practice that would worsen his health.

Powell could not be reached for comment.

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A spokesperson for Seton Hall’s Athletic Department, citing university policy about pending litigation, said department personnel will not be commenting on the matter.

Powell, a 6-foot-2 guard from Trenton, New Jersey, was a four-star recruit who exceeded all expectations as a collegian.

As a senior in 2019-20 he became the first Seton Hall basketball player to earn First-Team All-America honors from the Associated Press in 67 years.

He averaged 21.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists while leading Seton Hall to a 21-9 record and a share of the Big East regular-season title.

He was named Big East Player of the Year, won the Jerry West Award as college basketball’s top shooting guard, and exited with 2,252 collegiate points, third in program history.

Although a prolific collegian, he was not projected to be selected for the NBA in any major mock drafts by industry experts, largely because of his size – small for an NBA guard, especially a shooting guard, which is the position he played for Seton Hall.

He went undrafted and was signed as a free agent by the New York Knicks, but did not make the team.

Ultimately, he was given a spot on their G League affiliate, the Westchester Knicks. He appeared in 13 games for Westchester last season, averaging 17.8 points and 3.8 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game while shooting 44% from 3-point range.

Asbury Park staff writer Jerry Carino contributed to this article.

Nicholas Katzban is a breaking news reporter for NorthJersey.com. Email: katzban@northjersey.com; Twitter: @nicholaskatzban

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Myles Powell sues Seton Hall, alleges staff misled him on injury