After tearing his ACL during his senior year of high school, and dealing with other injuries along the way, sophomore Christian Negron said he’s feeling healthy and ready for the 2018-19 men’s basketball season.
An advertising/public relations major, Negron appeared in 17 games last season, averaging 1 point and 0.8 rebounds per game.
The ACL injury made him miss the first three games of last season, but he sprained his ankle during warmups Dec. 16 before a game against University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee—setting him back once again. He said although he thinks about his various injuries, they don’t affect his court mentality of playing fearless.
“I’m feeling really healthy now and we have one of the best medical [staffs] in the country, if not the best, and they give me a lot of confidence,” Negron, 19, said. “They’ve always been honest with me and I think they’ve handled my situation really well, so that’s given me a lot of confidence, mentally.”
The Ramblers opened their season Oct. 23 in an exhibition against Winona State at Gentile Arena, and Negron pitched in six points, five rebounds, two assists and two blocks in an 82-52 victory. He played 13 minutes off the bench and said he was pain-free after the game.
“I feel really good,” Negron said. “I’m starting to feel like I have a lot of my athleticism back, so it’s going really good.”
Sophomore guard Lucas Williamson, who’s also Negron’s roommate and a journalism major, said it’s been inspirational for him to see his friend get to where he is now. He said he saw Negron tear his ACL in person at a tournament that his high school, Chicago’s Whitney Young High School, was hosting. Negron played at Larkin High School in northern suburb Elgin.
“It’s been something special,” Williamson, 19, said. “Just to see him bounce back and battle through all his other injuries, it’s actually been pretty motivating for me to watch it because his spirits have never wavered. He’s always in good spirits and bringing what he can to the team. He’s always being aggressive and he’s a great addition to our team.”
Head coach Porter Moser said Negron’s confidence will grow with more minutes in high leverage situations. Being one of three centers on the team, along with sophomore Cameron Krutwig and first-year Franklin Agunanne, Moser said he would like to see Negron adapt to defending different positions on the court.
“He’s high energy,” Moser said. “He’s playing hard and he’s another one who has to get his feet wet and get some minutes. Right now we have three [centers], and if Christian can start to learn how to do some [forward] defensively, that really helps us get him on the court. We’ll see his development and if he’s able to switch and do some stuff one through four. I think we’ve got some depth at that big position.”
Redshirt senior guard Marques Townes said Negron’s defensive ability will be a big contributing factor for the team this year.
“That’s what gets all of us going, is playing defense,” Townes said. “Defense creates offense, so we need him to step up defensively and just be that energy guy. The offense will come [for him], he crashes the glass hard and he’s an athletic big so we’re looking forward to him stepping up.”
Negron and the Ramblers are set to open their season Nov. 6 at home against University of Missouri-Kansas City.