CHAMPAIGN — Kersten Magrum’s injury-riddled basketball career at Illinois has come to a premature end.
Following the latest in a series of concussions, the redshirt junior forward was medically disqualified by the school from continuing to play the sport.
The decision by the team’s medical staff was made earlier this week, Illini coach Matt Bollant said Friday.
“Just sad for her,” the first-year UI coach said. “Sad for her and the team. You hate to have a kid end their season and career that way, but concussions are really serious and it’s really important that we do the right things for her long term.”
Magrum had not played in the Illini’s last four games after suffering what was, according to Bollant, the fourth concussion of her UI career. Bollant said Magrum came to him after Illinois’ Jan. 6 game at Ohio State and indicated she was experiencing symptoms, which later were determined to be from a concussion suffered several games earlier.
At that point, the Mokena native ceased practicing and playing while her condition was monitored.
Magrum suffered at least two concussions last season, missing nine of the final 13 games due to separate head traumas.
Earlier this season, the former All-Stater from Lincoln-Way East also was sidelined for three games due to a left shoulder injury.
Magrum’s unlucky siege of injuries dates to her sophomore season, when she sat out all but three games with a stress fracture in her right foot.
Now, her latest injury is career-ending.
Said Bollant: “I think it’s a good lesson for every kid — you better take advantage of every game because you never know when it might be taken away.”
In her Illini career, the 6-foot-1 Magrum appeared in 66 games and made 39 starts, averaging 6.5 points. Her most successful season came a year ago, when she averaged 11.4 points and 5.7 rebounds in 21 games.
This season, Magrum was a starter in each of the first seven games in which she appeared. When senior Adrienne GodBold regained academic eligibility for the second semester, Magrum was utilized as a top reserve along with sophomore guard/forward Taylor Tuck. In a total of 11 games, Magrum averaged 5.4 points and 4.1 rebounds.
With Magrum unable to return, Bollant will look to an already thin bench for others to try to fill the void she leaves.
“It really means basically that (freshman) McKenzie Piper needs to step up and play and help us, and (sophomore) Nia Oden, as well,” Bollant said. “It’s an opportunity for them.”