Hellems Taken to Hospital After Hard Fall

Brett Friedlander

WINSTON-SALEM -- The NC State basketball team celebrated its 91-82 victory against Wake Forest on Saturday as it always does, with a stop on the way home to get ice cream.

This time, though, the mood won't be quite as festive as usual because teammate Jericole Hellems wasn't there to share the moment with his teammates.

The sophomore forward was at Winston-Salem's Baptist Hospital being treated for injuries suffered when he came down hard while battling for a rebound with 28 seconds remaining.

"Jericole Hellems has been taken to Baptist Hospital," Wolfpack spokesman Craig Hammel said after the game. "It's precautionary to rule out a lower back injury and he's also being evaluated for a possible concussion."

Hellems and the Wake Forest duo of Chaundee Brown and Olivier Sarr were chasing down a long rebound off a miss by Brandon Childress when they all collided just outside the lane about 15 feet from the basket.

Hellems came down hard and apparently hit the back of his head on the floor, then suffered a second blow when Saar landed on top of him. The 6-foot-7 St. Louis native laid motionless on the floor for several minutes as medical personnel, his father Toroano Hellems and coach Kevin Keatts attended to him.

"He was going for a big rebound in traffic," teammate C.J. Bryce said "Those Wake Forest guys were playing really hard at the end of the game and they really wanted that (ball). So you understand it. It's all part of the game. But it's just tough."

He was eventually placed on a backboard and taken from the court on a gurney in what Keatts called a scary scene.

Keatts, before starting his postgame press conference, asked that prayers be sent out for Hellems and his family, saying that "it would mean a lot to us."

"These are my kids," said Keatts, who added that Hellems was alert and was able to communicate with him while paramedics were working on him. "It was hard for me the last 28 seconds of the game. It was hard for me to focus knowing that we had one of our kids down on the floor."

Beyond the obvious concerns about Hellems' physical well-being, a prolonged absence would be a major blow to a Wolfpack team that has finally begun to find its rhythm over the past 2 1/2 games.

Hellems had posted career-high scoring totals in each of his two previous games -- against Memphis on Thanksgiving Day and Wisconsin on Wednesday -- and played well again Saturday with 13 points, three rebounds and two assists.

The good news is that doesn't play again until next Sunday at UNC Greensboro.

"It's tough becaues Jericole Hellems has played so great for us lately," Bryce said. "He's moving in the right direction and something like this to hold him back is the last thing you want to see.

"But I'm sure he will be okay. God will take care of him and we're looking forward to getting hoim back on the court as soon as possible."

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Brett Friedlander