Sibande suffers ACL injury, will miss 2021-22 season


Pamela Smith | Visual Editor

Nike Sibande during the Pitt men’s basketball game against NC State last season.

By Stephen Thompson, Sports Editor

Senior guard Nike Sibande will miss the 2021-22 season after suffering an ACL tear in Pitt men’s basketball’s exhibition game vs. Gannon Monday night.

Sibande “banged knees” with an opponent early in the first half and stayed in the game. But he felt his knee “give out” when pushing off of his right foot a few minutes later.

“I am really disappointed for Nike,” head coach Jeff Capel said in a press release. “He has been outstanding in his preparation for this season and has emerged as one of the most respected leaders in our program. He has done an amazing job dealing with adversity in the past and I am confident he will tackle his recovery in the same manner.”

Sibande — a transfer from Miami (OH) — was sidelined for the first half of the 2020-21 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Out of hundreds of immediate eligibility waivers, the NCAA denied seven, and one of them was Sibande. When the NCAA announced a blanket extra year of eligibility for all college athletes on Dec. 16 — just hours before Pitt was scheduled to play Miami — he was able to see the floor again. Sibande played eight minutes, knocked down a 3-pointer and grabbed two rebounds that night.

He struggled to find his footing early, but hit his stride late in February and into early March. 

Sibande averaged 34.5 minutes, 15 points and 6.2 rebounds per game while shooting 48% on 3-pointers over the final five games of the season. He recorded a season-high 24 points in Pitt’s lone ACC Tournament game — a 79-73 loss to Miami. 

He was poised to step into a much larger role for this Pitt team after the departure of junior starters Xavier Johnson and Au’Diese Toney, but will now have to endure another extended period of inactivity.