NATCHITOCHES — Northwestern State basketball standout Jalan West has reinjured his left knee and may not be able to play in the 2016-17 season, Demons head coach Mike McConathy said Tuesday.
West initially hurt the knee in the 2015-16 season opener at Ole Miss, which was supposed to be the start of his senior season. He had surgery to repair the injury in mid-December, and had been cleared to resume practice with the team, which is playing a series of exhibition games in Canada this weekend.
Late last week, while moving down the court in a routine drill, West reinjured the same knee. MRI testing indicated the same anterior cruciate ligament was torn, along with some cartilage damage, said McConathy.
West, who graduated in May, was granted a waiver by the NCAA to play a sixth season in 2016-17.
He will travel with the Demons to Canada, then have surgery.
“I can’t change it, this is all in God’s plan. We don’t know what that is right now, but eventually we’ll find out,” said West, who found silver innings knowing what lies ahead, and the wide range of support he has.
“Going through it once was pretty tough. I thank everybody who supported me and helped me get through the rehab the first time,” he said. “I know what it takes the second time. I still need that support and I really appreciate everyone who’s going to stand by me.”
There’s a 13 percent chance that anyone, not necessarily an athlete, who has knee surgery to repair ligament damage will suffer a reinjury of the same ligament, McConathy said. Surgery and rehabilation is a 6-8 month process.
“He was cleared to practice. It’s agonizing for this to happen for such a top quality person, who has worked so hard to get back to full speed,” said McConathy.
“He’s the kind of person you want to coach, you dream of coaching,” said McConathy. “He’s told us that what hurts so badly is that he has such a desire to win a championship with this group of teammates who have stood by him.”
Under an optimistic timeline, with a successful surgery and rehab, West might be able to make it back for the final stages of the 2016-17 season.
“I’ll be out until early March, hopefully,” he said. “It’s a tough deal, but I know God’s got me, so I’ll get through it.”
“It can take six months, it can take eight or 10 months. We do know Jalan will do all he can to get back to full speed,” said McConathy.
The 5-10 Bossier High School alumnus is the fifth-ranked scorer in school history with 1,592 points.
As NSU compiled a 19-13 record in 2014-15 and finished fourth in the SLC standings, West led the nation with 7.7 assists per game in 2014-15 to pair with 20 points per game, 16th nationally. Then-sophomore Zeek Woodley was the nation’s second-leading scorer (22.2 points per game), and Woodley and West formed the highest scoring tandem nationally (42.2 points per game).
West helped NSU to an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2012-2013 as the league’s freshman of the year after the Demons won the Southland Conference Tournament as the No. 2 seed. NSU finished in the top four in the Southland Conference standings in each of the next two seasons led by the two-time mid-major All-American.
Without West this past season, the Demons struggled to an 8-20 record, missing the conference tournament with a 5-13 league mark.
Before his injury, West was a consensus top 100 senior (2015-16 class) in three different rankings and was rated as high as No. 50 by DraftExpress.com.
He already owns NSU’s career assist record with 614. He is NSU’s reigning 3-point shooter (210 made) and also on track to become the Demons’ all-time steals leader.
Among the NCAA active leaders, West ranks fourth in assists per game (6.4) and 11th in total assists (614); sixth in assist-turnover ratio (2.6); seventh in steals per game (2.28) and ninth in total steals (219) and 28th in scoring average (16.6).
— Northwestern State Sports Information