Thursday, five days before St. Charles East starts the boys basketball season at its own Ron Johnson Thanksgiving Tournament, is a pivotal day for the Saints.
Kendall Stephens, the 6-foot-5 senior forward committed to play at Purdue, is scheduled for a doctor's visit Thursday to discuss MRI results of a shoulder injury sustained in practice. Stephens said he suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder in a Nov. 6 collision with a teammate as they contested a rebound. Options could include surgery or physical therapy depending on the damage found on the MRI.
"It's too early to know," said St. Charles East coach Patrick Woods.
"Right now if I had to play I could," Stephens said Tuesday. "But it just feels weak and when I move the arm up and out to the right it's really vulnerable. I'm a righty so that's a big factor in finishing in contact around the basket, and landing. I could go through the season, but it'd be tough."
Contacted by Daily Herald sports writer Jerry Fitzpatrick for a separate article, the two-time all-Upstate Eight conference player said doctors told him he could play through the injury and if surgery was necessary it could wait until after the season. However, Purdue summer basketball starts in June and if Stephens were to wait he'd need six months to be medically cleared.
"If I do have surgery I'll be in a sling from four to six weeks and then, total, have to be out of physical contact for six months," he said.
In addition to Thursday's consultation, Stephens will discuss the scenario with Purdue men's basketball coach Matt Painter, Saints coach Woods and his parents, former Boilermakers star Everette and wife Kay.
"It'll depend on quite a few people," Kendall said of his decision.
As a junior Stephens averaged 17.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.3 blocked shots and 1.2 steals in his third season as a starter.
He hopes there's a fourth.
"Right now it kind of makes me feel sad," he said. "It's just kind of hard to grasp that the whole year could be gone like that. For it to be my senior year makes it just that much more tough."