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Stay Positive: Tillie Undergoes Knee Surgery, Ballo Eligibility Not Yet Confirmed

Let’s all hope for the best

NCAA BASKETBALL: MAR 28 Div I Men’s Championship - Sweet Sixteen - Florida St v Gonzaga Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For the second year in a row, the joy of Kraziness in the Kennel and the beginning of a new basketball season is marred by a disappointing announcement. Last season it was Jacob Larsen quitting basketball, this year it’s surgery to Killian Tillie and a surprise announcement Oumar Ballo is awaiting an NCAA decision concerning his eligibility.

At 2:40 p.m. today, Spokeman-Review reporter Jim Meehan tweeted oft-injured Killian Tillie underwent knee surgery Thursday and his status will be evaluated weekly.

As bad as this sounds, there may be a silver lining among the clouds. The fact Meehan states Tillie’s “status will be evaluated weekly” could mean this is a minimally invasive arthroscopic procedure and will be able to return in a matter of weeks. Last season, the announcement he would undergo surgery for a stress fracture, included the estimation he would be out for eight weeks.

In a story in this morning’s Spokesman-Review, Jim Meehan reported that although Oumar Ballo will participate in today’s Kraziness in the Kennel, the NCAA has yet to determine his eligibility for the upcoming season. According to Gonzaga Athletic Director Mike Roth, he is fully enrolled in school and practicing with the team. Roth stated Gonzaga is moving ahead positively and it’s just a issue of paperwork to determine completion of academic requirements.

Roth states Ballo’s paperwork is at the NCAA Headquarters in Indianapolis and the delay may be they (the NCAA) are still dealing with football cases before they start on the basketball ones.

The 17-year-old Ballo left his home country of Mali at the age of 11 to attend the Canterbury International Basketball Academy in Spain’s Canary Islands. He later attended the NBA Academy Latin America where he received a high school diploma. He reclassified his college eligibility from 2020 to 2019 prior to commiting to Gonzaga in February 2019.

UPDATE: Meehan changed the wording concerning Tillie’s knee from surgery to “procedure” and then stated it doesn’t sound too serious.

Additionally, Mark Few reported during an interview telecast on Spokane’s KREM 2 that Tillie’s procedure was “proactive” to correct cumulative problems and not the result of an injury.