Minaya undergoes surgery, Martin mentions possible return

Minaya undergoes surgery, Martin mentions possible return
South Carolina forward Justin Minaya (10) reacts after a turnover by Kentucky during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford) (Source: Sean Rayford)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (TheBigSpur.com) - South Carolina men’s basketball will be without sophomore starter Justin Minaya (thumb) for at least the rest of the month of February.

However, it is possible the key defender, rebounder and three-point shooter could be back on the court for the last week of the regular season. Minaya underwent surgery on his injured left hand on Friday. Later that night at the program’s Legends Weekend reception, head coach Frank Martin said the successful surgery could relay into a return this season.

“The surgery was a home run from what I was told,” Martin said. “I don’t want to give you a date, because you know how that goes, but we’re looking at some time early March. There is a possibility he can play this year.”

Minaya suffered the injury in the Saturday, February 2 win at home over Missouri. He did not travel with the team to play against Ole Miss on Wednesday and the Gamecocks (13-9, 5-4) fell 84-70, snapping a three-game winning streak.

“On Monday we were really bad in practice, really bad,” Martin said. “Our team is an emotional team. They’ve grown up and built a real bond amongst each other. I think when they found out Monday that Justin can’t play for a while that it impacted us in a negative way. Them not having him on the bench and around on the trip, I think that created a little bit of the void that we played with, not just his talent and shotmaking. His spirit wasn’t with us and that hurt us. We were a lot better yesterday and today. He’ll be back on the bench tomorrow. That doesn’t mean we’re going to win, but I think we’ll play to more of the character of the team we’ve built here over the last couple months.”

In 21 games played this season Minaya is averaging a team-high 30.6 minutes per game. His 7.8 points per contest is fifth most points and his 6.1 rebounds per game are second-most. He has been the team’s leading scorer twice and leading rebounder eight times. He missed 27 games last season due to a knee procedure that ultimately forced him to redshirt.

South Carolina’s remaining schedule

Sat., Feb. 8, Texas A&M, 1 PM, SEC Network

Wed., Feb. 12, at Georgia, 6:30 PM, SEC Network

Sat., Feb. 15, Tennessee, 6 PM, SEC Network

Wed., Feb. 19, at Mississippi State, 9 PM, SEC Network

Sat., Feb. 22, LSU, 6 PM, ESPN/2/U

Wed., Feb. 26, Georgia, 6:30 PM, SEC Network

Sat., Feb. 29, at Alabama, 8:30 PM, SEC Network

Tue., March 3, Mississippi State, 6:30 PM, SEC Network

Sat., March 7, at Vanderbilt, 12:30 PM, SEC Network

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