Eric Katenda, the 6-9 incoming Notre Dame freshman, may never play for the Irish.
Katenda went permanently blind in his right eye after taking a shot during a July pickup game, and since he's not yet approved by the NCAA Clearinghouse because of grades and academic requirements (Notre Dame is a lofty school to get into, after all), his chance to play D-I basketball may already be over.
Katenda is from Paris and is still attempting to finish up requisite courses to enable him to enroll at Notre Dame. The eye injury has set him back in every possible way. He now may go back to Paris to recover, see his family, and attempt to start classes in January.
But the eye injury could very well mean he's no longer able to play basketball at an elite level.
"It was just the perfect storm, he's coming down with a rebound and the guy kind of came up and was going for the ball and got him on an angle where it really caused an injury," Irish coach Mike Brey said.The good news is that Notre Dame will not take Katenda's scholarship away, even if he won't play. The Irish are certainly hurt, relatively speaking, by this, as the 2011-12 team will be much different from last season's. Notre Dame loses Ben Hansbrough, Ty Nash and Carleton Scott from the group, which overachieved to the point of a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.
"The injury, as it was explained to me, the trauma (caused) a build-up of blood and the pressure became so bad behind the eye and that severed the optical nerve. There's no surgery that fixes a severed optical nerve. Modern medicine doesn't have that yet."
Brey said doctors discovered the severed optical nerve when they performed a procedure to allieviate the pressure on the eye. The Irish coach said he learned of the injury July 8, right at the outset of a critical summer recruiting window, and has taken the news perhaps even harder than Katenda.