Malone tears ACL; no timetable on return

Sam Malone’s terrible fortune with knee injuries continued this week when the freshman walk-on tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee at the end of Saturday’s game against Chattanooga.

UK Athletics announced the injury and said there is no timetable on his return or surgery.

“Losing Sam Malone to an ACL injury is heartbreaking,” John Calipari said. “Sam has been a great teammate and an even better person. You never want to hear someone is injured, but for Sam to go through his fourth knee injury is especially tough because he’s worked so hard to get where he is. He has become a valuable member of our team and quickly became a fan favorite. We look forward to Sam making a full recovery.”

Overall, it’s the fourth knee injury Malone has suffered since high school and the second one to his left knee.

The native of Scituate, Mass., tore his anterior cruciate ligament his freshman year of high school, tore his meniscus his junior season at the Tilton School (N.H.) and then underwent microfracture surgery his senior year.

“Thanks for the support #bbn(,)” Malone tweeted to his followers. “I’ll be back next season ready to pick up where I left off. Thanks for making me trend again feels good(.)”

Malone became a fan favorite and media darling this season for making the most of his late-game opportunities. The 5-foot-11 freshman displayed an entertaining courage to take shots when he was put in the game, scoring six points in 13 minutes and six appearances.

Freshman walk-on Sam Malone scored six points in six appearances this season. (photo by Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)

Malone’s defining moment of the season came in the final minutes of the Radford game when he crossed over a defender on a fast-break and banked in a layup. After that game, Malone talked about the honor of playing for Kentucky and the bond he had formed with his teammates.

“The bench is the best part, really,” Malone said at the time. “I love to see them get off the bench. It makes it really fun for me. … They’re all great guys and I really appreciate them getting off the bench for me.”

Malone believes he would have earned a scholarship somewhere had he not been the victim of three injuries in high school.

“I always had another injury,” Malone said last month. “I really think I would have made it to that level if that didn’t happen. My legs are feeling good now, so that’s what I’m doing. I’m out to prove I can play at this level.”

Calipari recently praised Malone for his work ethic and he had turned into an important puzzle piece in practice with the departure of former guard Stacey Poole.

“He wants to get ready for his opportunity,” Calipari said.