Leo to miss remainder of season

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Photo: Cleveland State Athletics

Cleveland State announced on Saturday that Destiny Leo, the 2022-23 Horizon League Player of the Year, will miss the remainder of the season due to injury.

Leo was hurt during CSU’s Viking Invitational finale against Kansas City on November 25th in Woodling Gymnasium. After rebounding a missed free throw late in the first quarter, she attempted to go coast-to-coast with the ball. Instead, she went down while attempting to change direction and simultaneously taking a foul from the Roos’ Zaire Harrell. Leo immediately grabbed her right knee, but managed to limp off after a short delay. Then, with that knee taped, she briefly re-entered the game during the second quarter, before collapsing again while playing defense.

If there is any sort of silver lining to the situation, it’s that the injury occurred early enough in the Vikings’ season to preserve Leo’s ability to receive a medical hardship waiver (often casually called a “redshirt”). In order to be awarded that extra year of eligibility, NCAA rules require that a student-athlete suffers a season-ending injury before participating in more than 30 percent of their team’s games (with none allowed beyond the halfway point of the season). The Kansas City game was Cleveland State’s sixth of 31 scheduled during the 2023-24 regular season.

Additionally, Leo was a freshman in 2020-21, making her a member of the final class to receive the NCAA’s so-called “COVID year,” a one-time waiver that prevented that COVID-affected season from counting against anyone’s eligibility timeline. Those things in tandem could extend her college career through 2025-26.

All of that is likely of little concern to the Vikings superstar right now, as she confronts the vanished reality of things like a highly-anticipated head-to-head against Caitlin Clark and Iowa next weekend and the chance to contribute on the court to her team’s Horizon League title defense. Leo had been off to the best statistical start of her career before disaster struck, averaging 24.4 points per game over her first five contests, thanks largely to a 52.1 field goal percentage and a spotless 40-for-40 mark from the free throw line.

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