Luke Apfeld’s rookie season on the University of Vermont men’s basketball team ended before it started.
“It has been confirmed that Luke Apfeld sustained an ACL tear in his right knee. He is out for the remainder of the season,” UVM athletic trainer Allison Shepherd said today.
That’s Apfeld’s third ACL tear in the past 16 months and second on his right knee. The 6-foot-8 forward from Wolfeboro, N.H., suffered the latest injury last week in practice and will be a medical red shirt this season, meaning he has four years of eligibility remaining.
“I feel so bad for the kid,” UVM coach Mike Lonergan said before today’s practice. “He’s put so much time and effort into basketball and it was taken from him. I just hope he can come back from it.”
A ballyhooed newcomer from Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, Apfeld — when healthy — is the second-most athletic player on Vermont’s roster behind Marqus Blakely, Lonergan said. Lonergan raves about Apfeld’s work ethic, maturity, discipline and tenacity, which bodes well for his possible return next season.
“He was just starting to show signs of the player he was before his first injury,” Lonergan said. “For our team, it takes away a lot of our depth, because he can guard any position, we could press with him, he plays hard every possession; so it really hurts us a lot more than people realize because they haven’t really seen the real Luke yet.
“All of a sudden, as versatile as our team was, so many different lineups we could play — big, small — it kind of takes away a lot of things we can do off the bench,” Lonergan said, “because we don’t have that one big guy who is athletic coming off the bench now.”
Apfeld tore his right ACL in July of 2008 while being recruited by Lonergan as well as larger programs. He made a speedy return to the court in January of his senior year at Brewster, only to tear the ACL in his left knee three days later. He was cleared to play for UVM, wearing a brace on his knee during Catamount practices and an exhibition against Concordia.
“I thought by the end of the year he’d be our biggest-impact freshman,” Lonergan said.