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Tracking COVID-19 at UCLASundance 2022

UCLA men’s basketball forward Mac Etienne suffers season-ending ACL injury

Redshirt freshman forward Mac Etienne (left) joined freshman guard Will McClendon (right) as the second UCLA men’s basketball player to sustain an ACL injury prior to the 2021-2022 season, coach Mick Cronin confirmed Friday. (Ashley Kenney/Photo editor)

By Bryan Palmero

Nov. 19, 2021 1:42 p.m.

This post was updated Nov. 22 at 12:38 a.m.

Just over a week into their season, the Bruins are down two players to ACL injuries.

With freshman guard Will McClendon already ruled out for the 2021-2022 season after tearing his ACL during a late September practice, No. 2 UCLA men’s basketball (4-0) redshirt freshman forward Mac Etienne is now the second Bruin to sustain an ACL injury prior to the beginning of the season. Coach Mick Cronin said Etienne successfully had surgery on his right knee Tuesday.

“(Etienne) and Will, they don’t want to hear it now but sometimes the tough things that happen to you in life are a blessing,” Cronin said. “Hopefully it’ll help them both in the long run with their development.”

Cronin said Nov. 8 that the team suspected the severity of Etienne’s long-term injury but were awaiting medical confirmation at that point. In a Nov. 1 media availability, the third-year Bruin coach said the redshirt freshman was injured during the offseason but did not provide an update on Etienne’s status.

The forward appeared in 13 games for the Bruins in the 2020-2021 campaign, averaging 2.6 points and 2.8 rebounds in 11.3 minutes per game. He was inactive for all four of UCLA’s contests to open the season.

With redshirt senior Cody Riley missing three straight games following a left knee MCL sprain during the team’s season opener, Etienne is the third Bruin to miss extended time this season after UCLA returned all 10 rotation players from its Final Four run. During March Madness, the Bruins were also without another team member because of an ACL injury, after former Bruin guard Chris Smith went down with a torn knee ligament in December 2020.

UCLA’s big man rotation is now left to redshirt senior center Myles Johnson and redshirt junior forward/center Kenneth Nwuba. Both players carry a 6-foot-10 frame, like Etienne, and have played in lieu of the freshman forward and Riley during their absences.

After a win over North Florida on Wednesday, Cronin said Riley is slated to miss UCLA’s two games in Las Vegas on Monday and Tuesday against Bellarmine and No. 1 Gonzaga, respectively.

The Bulldogs feature a frontcourt of 6-foot-10 forward Drew Timme and 7-foot center Chet Holmgren, a duo that has averaged a combined 28.3 points and 13.3 rebounds per game this season.

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Bryan Palmero | Assistant Sports editor
Palmero is currently an assistant Sports editor on the softball, beach volleyball, women's volleyball, men's volleyball and men's golf beats. He was previously a contributor on the beach volleyball and women's volleyball beats.
Palmero is currently an assistant Sports editor on the softball, beach volleyball, women's volleyball, men's volleyball and men's golf beats. He was previously a contributor on the beach volleyball and women's volleyball beats.
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