UCLA basketball likely to be without Prince Ali to start season

UCLA shooting guard Prince Ali had surgery on his left meniscus Friday, according to the school’s athletic department, and isn’t likely to be ready for the season opener Nov. 11. The 6-foot-3 sophomore suffered the injury July 8 playing basketball in open gym.

Ali was a key reserve last season, but an increase in his role this coming season wasn’t a certainty given the arrival of Naismith High School Player of the year, freshman point guard Lonzo Ball.

Ali, a four-star recruit from Weston, Fl., averaged 3.9 points in 11.8 minutes per game as a freshman. The speculation is that Ball’s arrival will shift Bryce Alford from point guard to shooting guard. Ali was likely to serve as Alford’s primary backup.

Ali’s surgery was successfull and he will be re-evaulated in approximately four months, which is about the same time the season begins. UCLA’s first four games are against Pacific, Cal State Northridge, San Diego and Long Beach State before the competition ratchets up a notch in the Wooden Legacy tournament beginning on Thanksgiving.

Ball, Alford and last season’s leading scorer, rising senior Issac Hamilton, all figure to be in the starting lineup. Ali and sophomore Aaron Holiday figured to come off the bench to complete the guard rotation. But the bench may be shorter for head coach Steve Alford until Ali returns.

The cause ans severity of Ali’s injury is unknown. Meniscus tears are typically caused by a traumatic event or wear and tear over a significant period of time. Ali’s age would indicate the injury was caused by trauma, likely a twisting motion of the knee.