Junior guard Kyle Castlin will miss the entire season after undergoing surgery in October to correct a nagging toe injury.
Castlin battled toe pain throughout last spring but exacerbated the injury during a pickup basketball game in July, according to head coach Jim Engles.
Engles described the injury as being similar to turf toe, a sprain to the ligaments around the big toe, but more severe.
The Marietta, Georgia native averaged 7.4 points per game in two seasons at Columbia, starting 31 games as a first-year. Last season, Castlin averaged 4.8 points and 2.5 rebounds per contest in 15 starts.
"I think [Castlin] was really prepared for a big season, so it's unfortunate that we don't have him," Engles said. "He was probably somebody that could have been a focal point for us."
As Ivy League rules prohibit a player from taking a redshirt year, Castlin will lose a year of eligibility while he recovers from surgery. Castlin could have withdrawn from school to maintain a year of eligibility like former Light Blue standout Alex Rosenberg, CC '16, but he opted not to because of the late timing of his surgery.
Still, Castlin has maintained a valuable presence off the court despite his injury, according to Engles.
"He's on the sidelines every day, encouraging his teammates," Engles said. "He's trying to do as much as he can without being on the court, so he's been helping us out from an injury standpoint."
The Lions will open their season this Friday at Stony Brook in Long Island.