Aisha Jefferson To Sit Out 2007-08 Women’s Basketball Season

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Junior forward will miss the entire season after tearing ACL in right knee during Sunday’s exhibition game.

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State women’s basketball junior forward Aisha Jefferson has torn the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee and will miss the entire 2007-08 season, head coach Suzy Merchant announced Monday at her weekly press conference. Jefferson is scheduled to undergo ACL surgery, but the exact date has not been set. It is typically a four-to-six month recovery period following surgery. Jefferson suffered the injury while driving to the basket on a fastbreak in the first half of Sunday’s exhibition game against Lake Superior State.

"Aisha will not be playing for us this year, which is pretty tough to handle," said Merchant, "but at the same time, it means that some freshmen are going to be getting some key minutes for us. (Aisha) does a lot for us not only talent-wise, but emotionally, she’s our leader. It certainly is tough news to hear. Aisha is more than a player. To me, to the program and to the fans, she is what Michigan State women’s basketball is all about. However, I do think we have some kids that can step up and will step up."

Jefferson, who earned All-Big Ten Freshman honors in 2005-06, improved her numbers as a sophomore, ranking third on the team with 10.4 ppg and 5.6 rpg to garner honorable mention all-conference accolades. She played in 67 games her first two seasons, including 44 starts, and averaged 8.5 ppg and 5.3 rpg. She scored in double-figures 20 times last season and collected four double-doubles. A natural leader, Jefferson was one of three captains named by Merchant at the beginning of the season.

"Aisha took the news hard, really hard," Merchant said. "I think that she was in the best shape of her life. She told me that she was the healthiest she’s been in a long time. When I went out to see her (after the injury), she just told me, ‘Coach, it’s done. My knee is gone.’ It didn’t look good when she did it. She’s down, but she is a vivacious person that will energize us in a different role this year."

Michigan State, ranked 17th in the preseason Associated Press poll and 18th in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ poll, opens the 2007-08 season Friday against IUPUI in the first round of the Preseason WNIT. The game begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Breslin Center.