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The Bruins will officially be without one of their young pieces for the rest of the year.

No. 2 UCLA men's basketball (4-0) has lost forward Mac Etienne for the rest of the 2021-2022 season, coach Mick Cronin confirmed to the media Friday. Etienne was diagnosed with a torn right ACL on Tuesday and subsequently underwent surgery to repair it.

Etienne initially injured his knee towards the end of October and was unable to participate in either the Bruins' secret preseason scrimmage against San Diego State on Oct. 30 or the exhibition against Chico State on Nov. 9. Cronin told the media at the time that the team's medical staff was "90-something percent" sure of the extent of the injury, and now their suspicions have been confirmed.

With that news locked in, UCLA has now had its third player go down with a torn ACL in the last 10 months. Guard Will McClendon tore his left ACL in practice in September, before he was ever able to take the court for UCLA. 

"They don’t want to hear it now, but sometimes the tough things that happen to you in life are a blessing," Cronin said Friday. "So hopefully it’ll help them both in terms of their development."

Going back to last season, guard Chris Smith tore his left ACL against Utah on Dec. 31, 2020, and he missed the rest of the season before departing for the pros in July. Looking back even further, then-true freshman point guard Tyger Campbell tore his left ACL in October 2018 and missed that entire season.

"It’s a crazy epidemic," Cronin said Nov. 8. "In 19 (years) as a head coach until I got here, one ACL – Cashmere Wright. One knee injury, major. Now three in (10) months. That’s really unusual."

Etienne was a rare midseason early-enrollee for the Bruins last season, joining the team in December just weeks after committing due to a COVID-hampered high school campaign back east. After initially intending to sit the season and exclusively play in practice, Etienne made it out onto the court for real in-season action when forward Cody Riley hurt his ankle and center Jalen Hill stepped away from the program due to personal reasons.

In 13 appearances, Etienne averaged 2.6 points and 2.8 rebounds in 11.2 rebounds per game with one start. Etienne played 13 minutes in UCLA's NCAA tournament run in March, recording three rebounds, three personal fouls and four missed shots without a make.

The arrival of Rutgers transfer center Myles Johnson was projected to limit the minutes available to Etienne in his first full season of action, regardless of his health, but the 6-foot-9 big man was still slated to see the court in spurts. That rotation was shortened further when Riley sprained his right MCL in the season opener and is now week-to-week.

Johnson and Kenneth Nwuba will be the only big men available to the Bruins against Bellarmine and Gonzaga at the Empire Classic in Las Vegas on Monday and Tuesday.

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