Nothing has turned out the way Eric Katenda planned. And now the class of 2011 Notre Dame basketball commit might be watching the Fighting Irish from the Purcell Pavilion stands next season.
Eric Katenda said that Irish head coach Mike Brey will honor the forward's scholarship at Notre Dame even if Katenda can't play
The 6-8 forward from Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kans., was supposed to be finishing up his first semester of summer classes at Notre Dame right now. He was supposed to be bonding with his new Fighting Irish teammates through open gyms. Now 247Sports.com's No. 123rd-ranked player nationally doesn’t know if he’ll ever be able to play competitive basketball again.
The NCAA Clearinghouse prevented Katenda from enrolling this summer because of a disputed Introduction to English class the French import took while attending a school in Connecticut as a sophomore. Katenda is finishing up that class now and his plan was to be on campus for the fall semester.
However, BlueandGold.com learned Thursday afternoon that in early July, Katenda was poked in the left eye during a pickup basketball game in a Washington D.C. park and was hospitalized. Doctors said Katenda's optical nerve was severed and can't be repaired, leaving him permanently blinded in that eye.
The Irish coaching staff has remained in contact with Katenda and made it clear that he’s still welcome and will receive a scholarship of some kind to cover the cost of his education at Notre Dame if he’s unable to play.
“I’m not sure what’s going to happen,” Katenda told Blueandgold.com. “They’ve been really great and they just didn’t forget about me. I can still go there and get my education. I thank God for the coaching staff at ND. They’ve been great.”
Katenda, whose summer class ends on Aug. 10, is unsure whether he’ll be cleared by the NCAA in time to enroll in the fall semester. But he remains both optimistic that he’ll arrive at Notre Dame sooner than later and that he’ll be able to overcome the injury and play for the Irish.
Katenda averaged 15.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, three blocks, two assists and two steals as a senior and filled out a 2011 class that includes Massachusetts star baseball/basketball player Patrick Connaughton and Michigan State transfer Garrick Sherman, who will sit out the 2011-12 season and be eligible as a junior the following year.
Check back at Blueandgold.com later this afternoon for more on our conversation with the surprisingly upbeat Katenda.