Pitt senior Ryan Luther out for season, hopes to redshirt
The worst news for the 2017-18 Pitt basketball team might turn into the best news for the ’18-19 group.
Senior forward Ryan Luther, who played in the first 10 games and before sitting out the past seven with a stress reaction in his right foot, will miss the remainder of the season, coach Kevin Stallings announced Thursday.
But Luther hopes to return next season if the NCAA grants its blessing.
Luther said he will apply to the NCAA for a medical hardship that could make him eligible for 2018-19.
Under NCAA rules, players must play less than 30 percent of a team’s games over the first half of the season to remain eligible to apply for a medical hardship. Luther is on the edge after playing in 10 games. He also missed 12 last season with a stress fracture of the same foot.
Pitt’s regular-season schedule includes 31 games, plus at least one in the ACC Tournament. Because the NCAA counts only one postseason game — regardless of the number played — when determining the amount of games, Pitt’s total will be 32.
“It hurts not to be out on the court and in practice with my teammates,” Luther said in a statement. “We have a good young core of players that I believe are going to continue to improve each day.
“I was hopeful that the latest MRI would show solid improvement in the foot, but it was pretty clear that it has not responded well enough to return to action without the threat of it becoming a stress fracture like last season.
“I am going to apply for a medical hardship and hope to remain at the University of Pittsburgh for another season. I love my coaches and teammates and believe in what we are building. This university and the city of Pittsburgh are home to me. I am anxious to get healthy and look forward to doing something special here next season.”
Said Stallings: “Ryan’s injury has not responded as well as we had hoped, and our medical team has recommended shutting him down for the remainder of the season. I know Ryan is frustrated with the injuries to the foot the past two years, but everyone involved agrees that it is in his best interest to rest the foot and allow it adequate time to make a complete recovery.”
Luther was averaging 12.7 points and 10.1 rebounds before the injury that started when he said he felt something “funny” in his foot after the West Virginia game Dec. 9. He has not played since, and Pitt is 3-4 in his absence (0-4 in the ACC).
He led the Panthers in rebounding in each of the final nine games he played.
Luther’s return next season would be a lift for Stallings, who expects to get back most of his roster after a near-total overhaul this season.
Plus, Pitt will add incoming players Bryce Golden, a 6-foot-9 forward, Danya Kingsby, the No. 2-ranked junior college combo guard in the nation, and St. John’s transfer Malik Ellison, who is sitting out this season because of NCAA transfer rules.