The school announced Monday that Ridley has fractured his left foot and will be out indefinitely. He will undergo surgery Tuesday to repair the injury, and there was no timetable for his return.
This is a pretty big blow to the Longhorns. After starting 2-3, Texas seemed to have finally built up some momentum in Shaka Smart's first season. They have won six in a row, including a last-second win over North Carolina and a couple of other solid nonconference wins over UT Arlington and Stanford.
But this is a significant setback because Ridley was averaging nearly 13 points, 10 rebounds and 3.5 blocks. Not only had he become possibly the most important player on the Longhorns (along with Isaiah Taylor), but he'd also been putting himself back on the map for NBA teams because of his size and length. The 6-foot-10 center with a 7-4 wingspan is no longer a complete liability out in space after improving his conditioning, and his ability to finish around the rim on offense, protect it on defense and get his team extra possessions by rebounding had been critical to the Longhorns' success.
Without him around, you can expect Prince Ibeh to get an increase in minutes if he can stay out of foul trouble. Shaquille Cleare is another option inside who will probably play more minutes. It's also possible that you see Texas go small a bit more often, as Smart does have a couple of wing pieces in Tevin Mack and the little-used Jordan Barnett to play some 4 if they want to run.
Still though, they'll be hoping for a relatively quick recovery time for Ridley. The Longhorns' schedule early on in Big 12 play isn't bad by that league's standards. However, it picks up heavily at the end of January, when they start a 10-game stretch where they have to play Vanderbilt in their final non-conference game, Oklahoma twice, Baylor twice, Kansas, Iowa State and West Virginia. If any team in America has a tougher stretch of games than that one, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find it. Getting Ridley back at some point during that run would be a good start for success in those games.
Texas center Cameron Ridley has been playing the best basketball of his career for the Longhorns. Unfortunately, it looks like that run of play is going to be interrupted.