MISHAWAKA – The game of basketball has been very good to Clay Yeo.
In turn, Yeo has been very good for the game.
That relationship, at least of the playing variety, appears to be over for the Bethel College star and former standout at Triton High School.
Yeo, a senior All-American forward for the Pilots, learned last week that he will need to have another surgery on his knee. Yeo, who had offseason knee surgery last March after hurting his knee last season, injured the knee during a game last month in Wisconsin.
“My season and college career is over,” said Yeo in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. “I do have a new micro fracture in my knee and I will need to have surgery. It’s not the news that I wanted, but I was prepared for it.”
Yeo, who was an Indiana All-Star in 2013 after leading Triton to a state runner-up finish in Class 1-A during his senior season, has been a star for the Pilots the past two seasons. The smooth 6-5 Yeo, who played his freshman year at Valparaiso University, averaged 21 points and six rebounds per game each of the last two years for coach Mike Lightfoot’s outstanding program.
“I knew as soon as I injured my knee last month that it was a significant injury,” explained Yeo. “Athletes know their bodies better than anyone and I knew that something was not right, especially with everything that knee has been through.”
Yeo, who also had surgery on his knee during his high school career at Triton, was averaging almost 16 points and five rebounds through the first seven games this season.
Yeo believes that his playing career beyond Bethel is also over.
“Playing again is probably a longshot,” said Yeo. “I was definitely going to look into playing professionally after Bethel. That was definitely an option and something that I wanted to pursue. I doubt that is an option now with surgery and another rehab.”
Yeo plans to still provide a presence and a voice for the Pilots, who were schedule to leave today for a tournament in Florida. Bethel, which is ranked No. 14, improved to 10-2 overall and 3-1 in the Crossroads League with a 106-99 home win over Goshen College in a conference game on Dec. 7.
“I’m still going to continue to be a leader for this team, just now from the sideline,” Yeo remarked. “It’s tough and a new challenge for me, but I’m excited about it. I plan to continue to be a big part of this team. I plan to give our guys advice and motivation. It’s really hard for me to sit and watch, but if the team keeps winning that’s the main thing. Our guys are doing a great job this season, especially our four seniors.”
Yeo does not know yet when his surgery will take place. He will need to have cartilage restoration surgery, which will be performed by Dr. Brian Cole, who serves as the head team physician for the Chicago Bulls.
Yeo says that he is thankful for the support from everyone, including his “family” at Bethel.
“Everyone here at Bethel, my coaches, my teammates, the students, all have been extremely supportive,” said Yeo. “It’s definitely a family atmosphere and just reinforces that I made the right decision to come to Bethel.”
Yeo believes that following this season that basketball will be in his rear view mirror.
“I think that I’m ready to do something else and take my life in a different direction,” stated Yeo.
“Basketball has done great things for me and I feel very blessed.”