Notre Dame basketball: Torres to undergo surgery

South Bend Tribune

Knee soreness and surgeries have lingered around the Notre Dame men’s basketball team in some way, shape or form in recent seasons, and this one is no exception.

Irish freshman forward Austin Torres will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery Thursday after experiencing recent discomfort.

Torres posted two tweets on Twitter around 2:15 Wednesday afternoon explaining how he would “prolly” sit out his freshman season and then return to have a strong sophomore year. The reason, he explained, was because of surgery Thursday following results of a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) test.

Less than an hour later, Torres’ tweets were deleted from his account.

Torres was not available for comment Wednesday according to a university spokesperson, who confirmed that the freshman will have surgery Thursday.

On the road recruiting Wednesday during the evaluation period for prospects, Irish coach Mike Brey said he expects Torres will miss at least three weeks following the “really minor procedure.”

The former Penn standout averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks as a senior. Never in his prep career did he have trouble with his knees. Torres did have a stress fracture in his lower back as a sophomore, and played with a back brace as a junior.

“He came back healthy and stronger after the back injury,” Penn coach Al Rhodes said. “I expect this will be the same situation.”

The 6-foot-7, 225-pound Torres was not expected to see meaningful minutes in the Irish rotation this season. The final piece to the 2013 recruiting puzzle who had originally committed to Central Michigan, Torres was ticketed to spend his first year watching and learning from fifth-year seniors Tom Knight and Garrick Sherman and sophomores Zach Auguste and Austin Burgett.

“We are really crowded up there with old, big guys,” Brey told the Tribune this summer. “We’ll go slow with him and just let him get reps in practice this year.

“It’s best for him with the five-year plan.”

Rhodes agrees that patience should be part of the plan with Torres.

“He’s the perfect player for that,” Rhodes said. “It gives him another year to mature and get stronger.”

Brey said Wednesday that a decision on Torres’ playing status this season will be made after the second exhibition game Nov. 1 against Tusculum. Notre Dame opens the regular season Nov. 8 at home against Miami (Ohio).

Torres and fellow freshman Demetrius Jackson (Marian) are the first local players to sign with Notre Dame during Brey’s 13-plus seasons. Torres is the third Irish in as many years and the fourth in the last five whose knee issues could affect his availability.

Former Notre Dame All-American Luke Harangody was sidelined for five games late in his senior year of 2009-10 with a bone bruise to his right knee. Former Irish forwards Tim Abromaitis and Scott Martin saw their college careers come to premature ends because of knee injuries.

Abromaitis played in two games in 2011-12 before needing reconstructive surgery after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in a practice the day after Thanksgiving 2011. Martin appeared in 18 games last season before chronic soreness in his surgically-repaired left knee forced him to the sideline in mid-January. He never returned.

Sherman and Martin each had arthroscopic knee surgeries last offseason. It never affected Sherman’s playing status in his first season in South Bend.

Brey had hoped this summer that the recent injury run was done.

“You’re almost like, ‘Come on, we’re out of those woods now,’“ said Brey, whose team starts practice Sept. 27. “But it’s a long season. We do have numbers. We have talent deep into the roster.

“You feel going in you’re not exposed in too many areas if something happens.”

Something has.

Former Penn High School standout Austin Torres, now at Notre Dame, will have knee surgery Thursday. SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN