UConn confirms Akok ruptures left Achilles tendon and is done for season

UConn's fears were confirmed on Monday when an MRI revealed that redshirt freshman Akok Akok suffered a complete rupture of his left Achilles tendon early in Sunday's win over Memphis.

According to release from the school, Akok's surgery will be scheduled "within the next day or two." He will not return to action this season.

It was an emotional scene on Sunday when Akok went down in pain after blocking a shot about a minute into the game.

"It's tough...," coach Dan Hurley said on Sunday. "He'll make a full recovery because of the quality of medicine and the quality of this kid's work ethic. ... He deserved better. He will be back."

There will be no shortage of people rooting for Akok during his recovery process. Count Tom Espinosa in that group.

Espinosa coached Akok for two and a half years at Putnam Science Academy. Akok played an important role in the prep school program's national championship run in 2017-18.

"It's a real shame," Espinosa said after PSA beat St. Thomas More on Monday. "We were at practice (Sunday) and my phone started blowing up. It's unfortunate. Knowing Akok, he'll give 100 percent in his recovery and he'll be back better than ever."

Akok, a 6-foot-9 forward, appeared in every game for the Huskies this season, starting 24. He averaged 5.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and American Athletic Conference leading 2.64 blocks per game. He's the second UConn starter to be lost to injury, as junior Tyler Polley has been sidelined since early January with a knee injury.

Junior Isaiah Whaley filled in for Akok on Sunday and contributed five points, seven rebounds and a career-best six blocks.

The short-handed Huskies (14-11, 5-7) are down to eight healthy scholarship players. They'll return to action on Thursday night when they play Temple in Philadelphia.

• In other UConn basketball news, guard James Bouknight was named AAC Freshman of the Week for the second time this season. Bouknight scored 21 points in a 79-75 loss to SMU on Thursday in Dallas and then scored 17 points and added eight rebounds in a 64-61 win over Memphis. He was selected as the conference player of the week on Feb. 10.

g.keefe@theday.com

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