This isn't an injury bug, it's an injury monster.
The Illini, plagued by injuries during the preseason and into the beginning of this season, are reportedly facing another crushing blow, as CBS Sports' Doug Gottlieb reported Monday morning that big man Mike Thorne Jr. has a meniscus tear and will likely miss the remainder of the season.
Mike Thorne (5th year grad transfer from Charlotte) has a meniscus tear- likely out for the year #Illinois
— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) November 30, 2015
CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein later reported that Thorne was set for surgery Monday and that it was still possible Thorne could return this season.
Illinois' Mike Thorne (meniscus) still could return this season, source told @CBSSports. No official timetable for return. Surgery today.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) November 30, 2015
[SHOP BIG TEN: Get your Fighting Illini gear right here]
The Illini were just starting to get back to what approximated full strength, with Kendrick Nunn returning a couple weeks earlier than expected from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb, Jalen Coleman-Lands playing after dealing with a stress fracture in his leg in the preseason, Leron Black back in action after tearing his meniscus in the preseason and Jaylon Tate returned after having surgery to repair a dislocated finger.
But this latest blow gives the Illini their second season-ending injury of the year, as Thorne would join point guard Tracy Abrams as out for the year. Abrams tore his Achilles tendon in the preseason.
Thorne was playing well after transferring in from Charlotte this offseason. He averaged 13.4 points and 8.4 rebounds in the team's first seven games, recording a pair of double-doubles in losses to North Florida and Chattanooga. He was on his way to another Saturday against Iowa State, scoring 10 points and grabbing seven rebounds in just 13 minutes, but he left after suffering an injury.
Thorne is Illinois' tallest player at 6-foot-11, and he was playing well as the team's starting center, starting in the front court alongside Black. If Thorne is done for the season — or any significant length of time — it will be up to forwards Maverick Morgan and Michael Finke to take over those minutes.