Don't expect C.J. McCollum to return to Lehigh

Despite the continued success and quality play of the men's basketball team, Lehigh fans wonder and speculate daily about the possible return of preseason All-American guard C.J. McCollum.

McCollum broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot in the first half of the Jan. 5 game at Virginia Commonwealth.

The original prognosis was an eight-to-10 week recovery process. He had a screw inserted during surgery on Tuesday, Jan. 8.

Eight weeks from the date of the surgery is Tuesday, March 5, the day before the Patriot League quarterfinals.

I'm here to tell the Mountain Hawks faithful: Don't hold your breath.

If I were laying odds in Las Vegas, the chances of McCollum playing again at Lehigh would be 100-to-1.

There are several reasons for my belief, and the first involves a lot more zeros than those odds.

McCollum is a NBA Draft prospect, a mid-first-round projection by many.

Bleacher Report's latest mock draft has McCollum going at No. 9 to the Detroit Pistons. That translates to about $6 million in guaranteed money for the first three years of his pro contract.

ESPN has McCollum going at No. 14. That's still a lottery pick with approximately $4.8 million awaiting him for those first three years.

McCollum, a journalism major, has aspirations of being a SportsCenter anchor. But he's in no hurry to pursue that option. His first love is playing the game, not talking about it.

In short, there's too much at stake to risk a return.

There is a history at Lehigh of players returning sooner than eight to 10 weeks from McCollum's injury.

Football lineman Troy McKenna broke a bone in his foot on the first day of 2011 preseason camp. He returned after missing just the first two games of the season (five weeks total).

But, be warned: Football and basketball require very different things from the participants' feet.

McKenna, an offensive tackle who also had a screw inserted in his foot, didn't require the same types of movements from his feet, nor the same number, as McCollum does.

While there is planting and turning by an offensive lineman, McCollum's feet are required to make many, many more violent stops and cuts throughout the course of a basketball game.

The chances of McCollum coming back at 100 percent physically with his basketball legs under him are very slim.

The 6-foot-3 senior guard received a history lesson back in December, when he returned perhaps too soon from a right ankle injury. He sat out one game after suffering the sprain in practice.

McCollum came back for a home game against Bryant. By the second half, there was little elevation and arc on his jump shot and he struggled with lateral movement, particularly on defense.