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July 28, 2010

Basketball: Rivals.com all-comeback team

MORE: Irish eyes smiling as Martin makes comeback | Football: Rivals.com all-comeback team

Purdue forward Robbie Hummel and Michigan State guard Kalin Lucas have the most star power of any college basketball players coming back from injury this season, but they're not alone in their predicaments.

In fact, so many players are in similar situations that we decided to put together an "all-comeback" team of guys returning from injury.

We only considered players who suffered season-ending injuries that prevented them from playing in at least half their team's games. That meant we couldn't include Hummel, Lucas, UNLV guard Derrick Jasper, Oklahoma State guard Ray Penn or Wyoming forward Afam Muojeke. All of them played the majority of the season before getting injured. We also couldn't include Memphis forward Angel Garcia, who returned to action late in the season after missing more than half his team's games.

Even without those otherwise deserving candidates, we still had enough players to fill out a potential starting lineup and a seven-man bench.

Here's a look at our "all-comeback" team.

F Joevan Catron, Oregon
PARTICULARS: 6-6/237, Sr.; Harvey (Ill.) Thornton Township
BUZZ: Catron doesn't score a lot, but the Ducks missed his rebounding and passing ability last season. Catron ranked sixth in the Pac-10 in rebounds (6.6), led the Ducks in assists (2.3) and also averaged 7.2 points per game in 2008-09. He played just four games last season before a back injury knocked him out for the rest of the year.
F/C Gregory Echenique, Creighton
PARTICULARS: 6-9/275, Soph.; Newark (N.J.) St. Benedict's
BUZZ: Echenique played seven games for Rutgers last season before undergoing surgery to fix a detached retina in his left eye. During his time away from the game, he decided to transfer to Creighton. Echenique averaged 12.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks for Rutgers in 2008-09. NCAA transfer rules won't allow him to play for Creighton until the end of the fall semester.
F Scott Martin, Notre Dame
PARTICULARS: 6-8/219, Sr.; Valparaiso (Ind.) High
BUZZ: Martin has sat out the past two seasons since beginning his college career at Purdue in 2007. NCAA transfer rules prevented him from playing in 2008-09, and he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during a preseason workout last season. Martin started 32 of Purdue's 34 games in 2007-08 and averaged 8.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists. Martin's return could help Notre Dame fill the scoring void created by the graduations of Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson. Although he's listed as a senior, Martin has two seasons of eligibility remaining.
G Maurice Creek, Indiana
PARTICULARS: 6-5/200, Soph.; Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military Academy
BUZZ: Creek started the first 12 games of the 2009-10 season and immediately emerged as Indiana's best overall player and one of the top freshmen in the nation. He scored 31 points in a loss to Kentucky and was averaging a team-high 16.4 points and 3.8 rebounds before suffering a season-ending knee injury. After splitting their first 12 games with Creek in the lineup, the Hoosiers went 4-15 without him.
G Kevin Foster, Santa Clara
PARTICULARS: 6-2/220, Soph.; Katy (Texas) Morton Ranch
BUZZ: Foster averaged 14.7 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 2008-09; he was the West Coast Conference's co-newcomer of the year and earned honorable mention all-conference honors. He got off to an even better start last season and was averaging 19.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists through the first six games of the season before a foot injury knocked him out for the rest of the season.
F Kammeon Holsey, Georgia Tech
PARTICULARS: 6-8/209, R-Fr.; Sparta (Ga.) Hancock Central
BUZZ: Holsey arrived on campus as the No. 82 prospect in the 2009 recruiting class, but he missed the season after tearing the ACL in his right knee during an August workout. Holsey should get plenty of opportunities to win a featured role in a Georgia Tech frontcourt that must replace lottery pick Derrick Favors and second-round draft choice Gani Lawal.
F Emmanuel Negedu, New Mexico
PARTICULARS: 6-7/220, Soph.; Wolfeboro (N.H.) Brewster Academy
BUZZ: Negedu, a former Tennessee player, missed the 2009-10 season after he went into cardiac arrest following a Sept. 28 weightlifting session. He had a cardiac defibrillator implanted in his chest afterward. Tennessee officials wouldn't medically allow him to play, but he did receive medical clearance from New Mexico. Negedu has received an NCAA waiver allowing him to play for his new team this season.
G Donald Boone, Arkansas State
PARTICULARS: 6-4/205, Sr.; Southwest Tennessee CC, Memphis Hamilton
BUZZ: Boone led the Red Wolves and ranked 11th in the Sun Belt by averaging 13.7 points in 2008-09. He also ranked second in the conference with 54 steals. He played only one game last season before a knee injury forced him to the bench.
G Jake Kelly, Indiana State
PARTICULARS: 6-6, Sr.; Carmel (Ind.) High
BUZZ: Kelly originally signed with Iowa, where he cracked the starting lineup as a freshman and earned honorable mention all-Big Ten honors as a sophomore. After transferring to Indiana State to move closer to home, Kelly played in just 12 of the Sycamores' 32 games last season before tearing the ACL in his left knee. He averaged 9.0 points and 3.3 rebounds last season before getting hurt.
G Toney McCray, Nebraska
THE PARTICULARS: 6-6/215, Jr.; Missouri City (Texas) Elkins
THE BUZZ: Tommy John surgery usually is more associated with baseball pitchers than basketball players, but McCray played just three games last season before undergoing that procedure on his left elbow. McCray averaged 5.7 points and 2.8 rebounds per game as a redshirt freshman in 2008-09.
G Andrew Steele, Alabama
PARTICULARS: 6-4/230, Soph.; Birmingham (Ala.) John Carroll
BUZZ: Steele, the younger brother of oft-injured former Alabama star guard Ronald Steele, started each of the Tide's first six games last season and averaged 3.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in 17.8 minutes before having surgery for a stress fracture in his left ankle. Steele won the Guy Lee Turner Defensive Award as the Tide's top defensive player in 2008-09.
G Varez Ward, Texas
PARTICULARS: 6-2/192; Soph.; Lenoir (N.C.) The Patterson School
BUZZ: Ward created plenty of optimism late in the 2008-09 season by averaging 11.5 points, 2.5 assists and 23.5 minutes in two NCAA tournament games, but he played just three games last season before tearing a quadriceps muscle. Ward averaged 6.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 23.0 minutes before getting hurt. Ward and swingman Shawn Williams give Texas two potential key performers who missed the majority of the 2009-10 season.

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