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Former Seton Hall basketball star Myles Powell has accused head coach Kevin Willard, the team’s medical expert and the university of downplaying a serious knee injury that he says derailed his professional career, according to a civil lawsuit filed Wednesday and reviewed by The Post.
In the second game of the 2019-20 season, Powell, then a senior, suffered an injury. He said he was told by Willard and the university’s director of sports medicine, Tony Testa, that he had suffered an ankle injury and could continue to play without trouble, according to the suit.
Willard told reporters the night of the injury, against Stony Brook, it was a “serious” ankle sprain and might lead to a “prolonged absence.” Powell, however, played the next game, scoring a game-high 37 points against Michigan State.
The injury turned out to be a torn meniscus that should have kept him sidelined, one of the school’s most decorated players in recent years said. The lawsuit says Powell continued to play, on the advice of Willard and Testa, but felt pain in his knee.
“Whenever he would ask Dr. Testa about the pain, the doctor would advise it was just a bone bruise and that playing on it would not exacerbate the injury,” the lawsuit reads, calling Testa as a physician, when according to the Seton Hall website, he does not have a medical degree.
The Trenton native said in the suit he continued to feel pain throughout the season, “so much so that his practice time was severely limited.”
The lawsuit says Testa injected pain-killing medication into Powell’s knee throughout the season, but did not inform him of the torn meniscus — a common basketball injury that most players make a full recovery from within two months, according to a 2012 study by the American Journal of Sports Medicine.
The study suggested that athletes who do make a full recovery are able to return to the same level of play as before an injury.
Powell, who also suffered a concussion his senior season, averaged 21 points, 2.9 assists and 4.3 rebounds that year, was named Big East Player of the Year and led Seton Hall to a 21-9 record and share of the Big East regular-season title.
The suit claims that the untreated torn meniscus prevented Powell from being a lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Powell, who went undrafted, was never considered to be a high draft pick, and most prognosticators projected him to go undrafted because of his 6-foot-2 frame, which is small by NBA standards.
The 24-year-old ended up signing with the Knicks for a guaranteed $50,000 — lottery picks can make up to $8 million — and averaged 17.8 points. 3.8 assists and 3.4 rebounds in 13 games for the Westchester Knicks, the franchise’s G-League affiliate.
He was waived by the organization in April.
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