Now, with Iona set to open the 2016-17 season Tuesday at Florida State, Casimir will make his return to the court, hoping to lead the Gaels to another NCAA Tournament berth next March.
“Schad is back and ready to go for the opener,” Iona associate head coach Jared Grasso said. “He has made great strides the past couple of weeks.”
The former Trinity (CT) Catholic star burst onto the scene in the MAAC as a freshman, dropping 40 points on Delaware State in just his fifth college game. Casimir ranked seventh in the league and led all MAAC freshmen in scoring during the regular season, averaging 15.2 points. He shot a league-best 43.8 percent from 3-point range and 90.1 percent from the free-throw line.
The future looked bright.
But then a year ago, just before the season began, he began to feel pain in his groin that was eventually diagnosed as a sports hernia.
“Around this time last year, I started feeling it in my groin,” Casimir said. “When we played our first scrimmage I really started to feel it. And during the second scrimmage I knew it was going to really be a problem.”
He played four games to start the season, scoring 16 in a win over Delaware, but then had to shut it down for the season because of a sports hernia and pain in his hips.
“It was all related, I felt it in my groin first before I felt anything,” he said. “It was a groin pain. They said it’s common in athletes. It could be over-work on the muscles, it could be a lot of different things. They said I could’ve had it for years, and it just started to bother me, so it was nothing I could control.”
In January, he underwent the first of two hip surgeries to repair torn labrum repaired in his left hip.
“We don’t know when it all started. It affected him throughout the season,” Iona coach Tim Cluesstold the Journal News in January. “We were not sure if he was going to be able to play through it and then take care of it after the year or not. He went for a second opinion and the doctor told him the best way to take care of it was with surgery.”
Despite undergoing three surgeries across five months, Casimir said he never envisioned that his career might be over.
“I never really though negatively about it,” he said. “When I was in the hospital I was just really thinking about when I could get back on the court, how long was it going to take.”
Casimir must ice his hips and stretch every day as he tries to the strength back in his muscles. Along with graduate transfers Sam Cassell Jr. and Jon Severe, he figures to play a big part in Iona’s up-tempo attack in the post-A.J English Era.
For now, those he’s just happy to be back on the court and has modest goals.
“Win games. just help my team any way I can help them and trying to get back to 100 percent,” he said of his goals. “Playing the way I can, but the first thing I’m thinking about is just helping my team any way I can.”
Photo: USA Today Sports
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.