Hand injury ends Husker hoops guard Kavas' career

Hand injury ends Husker hoops guard Kavas' career

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Sometimes, a basketball career ends quietly in the middle of the night.

Nebraska senior forward Matej Kavas announced on Twitter early Sunday morning that his college career was over following the hand injury he suffered in the first half of Saturday's game against Wisconsin.

Kavas announced the news at 2:42 a.m. Sunday, and NU made the news official with a midday news release.

"It is disappointing to see Matej’s college career end because of an injury,” Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said in the release. "Matej was one of the first players to commit to Nebraska when we started last spring. He believed he could help set the foundation for our program even though he had one season to play. Everyone in our program appreciates Matej, and we look forward to him having a full recovery and getting the opportunity to continue playing after college."

A 6-foot-8 guard from Slovenia, Kavas had been on the court for less than a minute Saturday before coming out of a scrum for a rebound holding his left hand.

He initially went to the bench before heading back to the locker room, and returned to the bench for the second half with his hand heavily taped.

Hoiberg said after the game the initial diagnosis for Kavas was a soft-tissue injury involving a ligament in his left hand, and that he would undergo an MRI on Monday. According to the news release, Kavas will undergo further testing and evaluation by a hand specialist to determine the further course of action.

"I felt like I still had things left to prove for this year and was feeling currently in great basketball shape," Kavas wrote. "However, I am extremely proud of the individual and team success I had through my entire college career."

Kavas had just begun to come on after struggling for much of the season, going 5-for-11 (45%) from three-point range over Nebraska's previous three games and scoring 11 points in the loss at Maryland.

He came to Lincoln as one of the most accurate shooters in college basketball. In his first three seasons playing for Seattle University, Kavas was a career 45% three-point shooter who had taken more than half his career shot attempts from beyond the arc.

In 2017-18 Kavas shot 46% from three-point range and averaged 15 points per game. Despite an injury in 2018-19, he averaged 10.3 points per game while shooting 46% from three-point range.

But Kavas has also dealt with a long string of setbacks.

He tore an ACL in the summer of 2015 and was forced to miss what would have been his freshman season. Last year, he suffered a broken shin and missed nine games. 

Kavas was the Western Athletic Conference freshman of the year in 2016-17 after averaging about 12 points and four rebounds per game in conference play.

But Kavas never found the same level of success in Lincoln that he enjoyed in Seattle. His final season ends with him averaging 5.5 points and 1.2 rebounds per game while shooting 38% from the field and 34% from three-point range.

Kavas' injury leaves Nebraska with nine available scholarship players, and only two (Yvan Ouedraogo and Kevin Cross) who stand taller than 6-foot-6.

Contact the writer at cbasnett@journalstar.com or 402-473-7436. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.

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