HALFMOON — If Kevin Huerter attends next week’s NBA draft, executing the on-stage handshake with commissioner Adam Silver could be problematic.
As first reported Wednesday by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Huerter had surgery on his right hand and is expected to miss two months of action. Thursday, Tom Huerter confirmed his son had surgery last week to repair torn ligaments in the base knuckle of his right pinkie.
When Kevin Huerter — a Shenendehowa High School graduate who played for two seasons at the University of Maryland — announced a couple weeks ago his decision to remain eligible for this year’s draft, the 19-year-old said he hurt his hand in February.
Maryland forward Kevin Huerter, a projected first-round pick in the June NBA Draft, underwent surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right hand, sources tell ESPN. He will be sidelined for two months.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 13, 2018
“I hurt it in our game at Northwestern this year. [After that], I had it taped in practice, but didn’t really practice at all, and then for the games I’d play without tape and kind of hope and pray it didn’t get hit,” Huerter said. “Then, when I started working out again in the spring, it wasn’t really right, and I got it looked at again.”
Despite lingering pain in his right hand, Huerter excelled at May’s NBA draft combine in drills and scrimmage sessions, which changed his outlook for this year’s June 21 draft at Barclays Center in Brooklyn from being a likely second-round pick to a first-round selection. Huerter, who signed with agent Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports & Entertainment, received strong enough feedback from NBA teams to warrant forgoing his final two years of NCAA eligibility.
Last week’s surgery for Huerter, who led Shenendehowa to a state championship in 2015 as a junior and swept New York’s player of the year awards in 2016 as a senior, isn’t expected to affect his draft status. Early Thursday, Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo tweeted there is a “growing belief around the league” that the Los Angeles Lakers promised to select Huerter with the No. 25 selection in the draft.
However, there are several teams linked to Huerter before that spot in the draft, according to multiple reports and mock drafts. On draft night in Brooklyn, Huerter’s selection seems possible as soon as the first round rolls into the teens.
There’s a growing belief around the league that the Lakers are the team that promised Kevin Huerter at No. 25.— Jeremy Woo (@JeremyWoo) June 14, 2018
At this point, Tom Huerter said it is unclear whether his son will earn an invitation to attend the draft.
“We’re hoping to go, but we’re still waiting on that,” Tom Huerter said. “It’s a matter of whether he’d be invited to sit at a table on the floor or not.”
Kevin Huerter is coming off a college season in which he averaged 14.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game for the Terrapins. The 6-foot-7 perimeter player shot 50.3 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from 3-point territory.