Homestead graduate and Purdue point guard Karissa McLaughlin will miss the 2020-21 season after she has surgery in July for an ankle injury, the Boilermakers announced Monday.
McLaughlin, who was set for her final season of eligibility this year, plans to redshirt and return as a fifth-year senior for the 2021-22 season.
“Sitting out this season will be one of the hardest things I've ever had to face in my life,” McLaughlin said in a statement. “I keep reminding myself that God has a plan and a reason for everything. I've stayed focused on the positives. I am going to do everything I can to be at 100% for next season.
“I will dedicate all my energy into my new role and offer any support I can to help this team win. I have all the confidence in the world in my teammates and know that we're going to do big things this year.”
McLaughlin, the 2017 Indiana Miss Basketball who led Homestead to a Class 4A state title that season, is a two-time all-conference player, including earning first-team All-Big Ten honors as a sophomore in 2018-19. She has started 94 of Purdue's 98 games in her first three seasons and was set to lead a Boilermakers team looking to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2017, one that would have featured 10 seniors and juniors had she been in the lineup.
The 5-foot-7 guard was originally scheduled to have surgery in April, but the procedure was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Purdue women's basketball team returned to campus to begin voluntary workouts June 22.
McLaughlin battled the ankle injury for much of last season and wore a boot on her foot to stabilize the ankle when she wasn't practicing or playing. She also missed two games with a lower-leg injury and a concussion. Perhaps as a result, her 3-point shooting percentage slipped from 37.3% to 32.4% and her scoring average fell from 15 points to 13.1.
“It was crushing news,” Purdue coach Sharon Versyp said. “We know it's the right course of treatment for Karissa, but it's still difficult to process. She has an immeasurable impact on our program. We know she will work hard to rehab and get in a position to be ready for next year. In the meantime, Karissa will still be a leader on this team and will find new ways to make an impact off the court.”
McLaughlin was in reach of a host of individual accomplishments heading into her senior season. She needs just seven 3-pointers to break the Purdue record for 3s, currently held by Courtney Moses.
With 1,255 points, another season of 500 points, a mark she reached as a sophomore, would move her well into the top 10 on Purdue's all-time list. She already ranks 23rd in Boilers history in points and 15th in assists with 350. With another season of 100 assists, she would ascend into the top 10 of that category, as well.
Along with her 13.1 points, McLaughlin averaged a team-best 3.4 assists last season. She was set to be the only returning player on the roster who averaged double-figure scoring in 2019-20. With her out of the lineup, the Boilermakers' top returning scorer is senior Tamara Farquhar, who averaged 7.3 points before tearing her ACL in January and missing the rest of the season.
Farquhar likely won't be back until December, so the Boilers, who went 18-14 last season, will have to rely on junior Kayana Taylor, who scored 6.6 points per contest in 2019-20, for more scoring punch.
With center Ae'Rianna Harris, a two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, graduated, Purdue was going to try to play at a faster pace this season, surrounding McLaughlin with more shooters to allow her to facilitate or look for her own shot. Even more than in past years, it would have been an offense geared around the McLaughlin's strengths. After McLaughlin's injury, Versyp will have to make some adjustments.
In May, McLaughlin said she was excited to get back on the court with her teammates.
“Just finally getting back in the gym and competing,” McLaughlin said of what she's looking forward to most. “It's so hard being a competitor not being able to compete against your teammates and get better and do one on one, two on twos, different things like that. So honestly, getting back on the court and grinding it out together.”
McLaughlin's goals this season were to lead the Boilermakers to an NCAA Tournament and a Big Ten championship. She'll still have an opportunity to reach those milestones, but she'll have to wait another year.