Illinois center Mike Thorne, Jr. tries to take a shot against Iowa State's Abdel Nader, right, and George Niang in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game during the Emerald Coast Classic in Niceville, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/M
Mark Wallheiser
December 01, 2015

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) Illinois basketball coach John Groce says Mike Thorne Jr.'s left knee injury could end his season.

Groce said Tuesday that Illinois (3-4) is preparing as if the 6-foot-11-inch starting center will not be back, because the meniscus tear Thorne suffered Saturday against Iowa State ''absolutely'' could be season-ending.

Thorne had surgery Monday and Groce said it is too soon to know how his recovery will go. He added that Thorne's Type 1 diabetes could also be a factor.

Groce does not yet know whether the fifth-year senior could redshirt.

Thorne is the team's leading rebounder with 8.4 a game and is averaging 13.4 points.

Maverick Morgan, Leron Black and Michael Finke all could see more playing time in Thorne's absence.

Illinois hosts Notre Dame (4-2) on Wednesday.

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