Lehigh prepping for life without star G McCollum

Lehigh prepping for life without star G McCollum

The best-case scenario for injured Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum is for the preseason All-American to return in two-plus months, just in time for the Patriot League tournament.

But his potentially lucrative future in the NBA may take precedence over a speedy recovery.

There's more to life, after all, then helping the Mountain Hawks in the conference tourney. Several factors need to be considered.

Either way, Lehigh coach Brett Reed is preparing for life without the senior who helped the Mountain Hawks stun powerhouse Duke in the NCAA tournament last season. Reed is trying to be realistic, and said there was a distinct possibility McCollum may have played his last game at Lehigh.

``We have to progress,'' he said, ``and move on.''

McCollum suffered a broken left foot last week in a game against Virginia Commonwealth. He underwent what the school deemed ``successful surgery'' on Tuesday.

The estimated recovery time is eight to 10 weeks, but the school warned that would depend on the healing process. The timeline could make him available in early March.

McCollum, at the time of his injury, was leading the country in scoring (25.7 points). Lehigh (10-4) hosts Holy Cross to open Patriot League play on Saturday.

``It's going to be a challenge to replace him. Maybe `replace' isn't the right word,'' said McCollum's roommate and fellow team captain, Gabe Knutson. ``We have a lot of guys who are willing and able to step up.''

McCollum is considered a potential first-round pick in the NBA draft, and has averaged 21.3 points over his career at Lehigh. On March 16 of last year, McCollum scored 30 points as Lehigh, a No. 15 seed, defeated the Blue Devils, 75-70.

``The magnitude of his future - we understand that,'' Reed said. ``We approach this thing to where he's fully healed, to reduce all chance of future injury, to ensure longevity of his career.''

McCollum had been a mainstay in the Lehigh lineup until this year. He ended a streak of 109 straight games last month when he missed a contest because of an ankle injury. This absence will be much longer, though Lehigh does have other veterans to lean on.

Knutson (15.7 points) and fellow senior Holden Greiner (11.7 points, 6.6 rebounds) give Reed a savvy duo in the frontcourt, while junior Mackey McKnight (11.3 points, 5.1 assists) gives the Mountain Hawks another backcourt scoring option.

``We've got to shore up the defense and make sure we rebound as a team,'' Knutson said. ``But we'd be saying that with or without C.J.''

Reed called adjusting to the loss of McCollum one of the most difficult midseason challenges he's had to face in his six years coaching Lehigh. He said the already established emphasis on sharing the basketball will help, though he must tweak the system that primarily played through McCollum ``without totally changing who we are.''

``It would be impossible and improbable to replace C.J.,'' Reed said. ``It will require the collective effort of everybody ... to try to cover'' the tasks McCollum performed.

Winning the Patriot League just got tougher.


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The Browns called the Redskins 15 years ago hoping to trade up for Sean Taylor, but the Redskins said 'no'

The Browns called the Redskins 15 years ago hoping to trade up for Sean Taylor, but the Redskins said 'no'

Thanks to his illustrious career at Miami, Sean Taylor caught the eyes of Joe Gibbs and the Redskins heading into the 2004 NFL Draft.

Not surprisingly, though, Washington wasn't the only franchise interested in adding a do-it-all, safety-in-a-linebacker's-body prospect to their defense.

In a terrific look-back at that draft from Sports Illustrated — a draft in which a record six Miami products went in the first 21 picks — you'll find this excerpt:

But at the last minute, the Browns, owners of the No. 7 pick, called asking to trade up. Butch Davis, Cleveland’s coach and EVP, had previously been the head coach at Miami and had recruited all six of these Hurricane prospects out of high school...

[Vinny] Cerrato says the Browns were coming for Taylor. Davis is more diplomatic about it: “It was probably about 60-40 that we would’ve taken Sean [over Winslow],” he says. He wanted to know what it’d cost to get Taylor. But Washington wasn’t budging. “There was no interest whatsoever,” Cerrato says. “We wanted Sean Taylor.”

Cleveland also reportedly contacted the Giants about their fourth overall selection so they could skip the 'Skins entirely, but New York ended up orchestrating their own deal to land Eli Manning.

Fortunately, the Burgundy and Gold stayed in place and got Taylor despite the calls. Often times, trading back in the draft is an attractive option. This time around, however, that option paled in comparison to the opportunity to acquire Taylor.


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2019 NFL Draft Preview Special: How to watch

2019 NFL Draft Preview Special: How to watch

Were the countless mock drafts not enough? Do you need a little more explanation before the nail-biter that is Round 1? NBC Sports has you covered.

Representatives from every branch of the NBC Sports Regional Network will be breaking down the 2019 NFL Draft on Thursday, April 25th just hours before one of the most anticipated and nerve-wracking shows in all of sports. Beginning at 3 p.m. ET, experts and insiders will preview Round 1 and the draft needs of their network's respective teams.

So obviously, we've got Redskins insider JP Finlay on set and ready to discuss what's in store for the 2019 Burgundy and Gold.


The special will be available exclusively on the MyTeams by NBC Sports App. If you haven't already downloaded the MyTeams App, you can do so right now, RIGHT HERE.

How to watch NBC Sports's 2019 Draft Preview Live Stream

When: Thursday, April 25th

Time: 3 p.m. ET

Who: JP Finlay and team-specific NFL experts across the Regional Sports Network

Steam: MyTeams App