What Huntley junior Amanze Egekeze needed in the offseason, a long period of rest for his achy right knee, he could not afford.
The spring and summer meant tournaments for the 6-foot-6 forward with his AAU team, the Illinois Wolves, and exposure to college coaches. Egekeze said the knee started bothering him toward the end of his sophomore high school season.
Eventually, Egekeze and his family opted for a last resort. He will have surgery for the patellar tendinitis on Tuesday with orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Brian Cole at Chicago’s Rush Hospital. In May, Cole performed the ACL reconstruction on Bulls’ star Derrick Rose’s left knee.
“Each time I rested it and tried to come back, it was worse,” Egekeze said. “It’s a really annoying injury to have. I just have to stay positive, get it fixed and then have a strong high school season.”
Egekeze was a Northwest Herald All-Area first-team selection after helping the Red Raiders to a 26-4 season and the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division title. He shot 48.6 percent from the field, 72.2 from the line and led the area with 65 blocked shots.
“He was looking extremely good [in the summer],” Red Raiders coach Marty Manning said. “He would have been very difficult to stop. I’m sure he won’t get that rusty.”
Egekeze’s recovery should take two to three months. The doctors have told him the procedure usually is 80 to 85 percent effective. Gilbert Egekeze, who is a doctor, wanted his son to exhaust all other alternatives before undergoing surgery.
“We wanted to try everything else,” Amanze said. “We have to think long-term.”
Egekeze received offers from DePaul and Toledo in the spring and was getting more calls from NCAA Division I schools, but took June off to try to heal. He came back to play some with the Wolves in July, but again the knee ached. Car rides to visit colleges were difficult as he sat for long periods of time in the back seat with his knees folded.
The AAU season helped Egekeze gain exposure, but playing several games in a weekend also took more of a toll on his knee since he had less time to rest. The hope for Huntley is that Egekeze might return by the time the Raiders visit Bloomington for a holiday basketball tournament near the end of December.
“I’m not too worried about it,” Egekeze said. “We have strong Christian faith and feel like whatever God has planned for us, everything will turn out in the end.”
• Joe Stevenson is a senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.