Expected to play a bigger role after the program lost some key cogs from one of its best teams, Kaiser Gates won’t comprise part of Xavier’s rotation due to a knee injury he suffered. The sophomore forward underwent a successful left knee arthroscopic operation on Thursday and is expected to be out for at least a month, according to Shannon Russell of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The procedure was intended to remove small particles of cartilage from Gates’ knee, one that has kept the second-year player out of practice almost exclusively thus far during the Musketeers’ preseason workouts.
Xavier lost a lot of its frontcourt from the 28-6 season that gave the program a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, with James Farr and Remy Abell having exhausted their eligibility and junior Jalen Reynolds oddly making the decision to leave early. He was not drafted.
Playing behind this trio in a deep rotation, the 6-foot-8 Gates averaged just 3.2 points and 2.6 rebounds in 30 games last season. Russell tabs his hopeful return date as late November by the time Xavier takes part in the Tires Pro Invitational in Florida from Nov. 17-20.
Considering the Musketeers only have two games before that — Nov. 11 against Lehigh and Nov. 14 against Buffalo — this wouldn’t shelve Gates for a significant portion of the season. And considering the Musketeers’ schedule doesn’t ramp up until a Dec. 3 tilt against Baylor — which is followed by power-conference matchups against Utah, Colorado and Wake Forest — rushing Gates back early won’t be paramount.
The Cincinnati-based program notched its most wins in a season since 2008 but couldn’t keep its patter of Sweet 16 appearances going after losing on a buzzer-beater against Wisconsin in Round 2.