Hoop it Up

Sam Lunt, Florida State's veteran basketball trainer, has been busy packing for the move next week to the Seminoles' new practice facility at the Leon-County Civic Center. Lunt's luck also has been good concerning his team, which is relatively healthy as it heads into the summer months under first-year coach Leonard Hamilton.

Center Mike Mathews recently turned an ankle during a pickup game but is fine. Guard Marcel Haywood continues to rehab from an abdominal strain suffered last season, while forward Andrew Wilson has been cleared from knee surgery.

Hamilton, of course, has kept a hectic pace since replacing Steve Robinson, fired after five seasons with the Seminoles. Hamilton's recruiting class appears solid with the additions of guards Nate Johnson, Benson Callier and Todd Galloway and forward Al Thornton.

Additionally, 19-year-old Christjan Drejer of Denmark recently visited FSU with his father, a physician in Denmark and former European player. Drejer, who averaged 31 points last season for SISU Kopenhagen and has two sisters who also play competitive hoops, is said to be deciding between the Seminoles and Gonzaga. He is also considered to be a future first-round lottery pick.

By all accounts, according to one scout at the pre-draft camp in Chicago, Drejer is extremely talented and only needs to improve his strength and play against better competition to be ready for the NBA. With that in mind, he would be a major league steal for FSU.

Of course, Hamilton has two remaining scholarships following personnel changes -- guard Ryan Lowery has decided to end his playing career due to chronic knee pain and center Nigel Dixon plans to transfer to another school.

While Lunt continues to watch over his team, many people might not realize he also is preparing for major surgery next month -- hip replacement (right). Lunt, 41, is suffering from degenerative joint disease. Involved in athletics at the college, national and international levels over the years, Lunt simply wants to be healthy so he can enjoy his family and his profession.

"I guess I am the only one on injured reserve," Lunt said and smiled.

"I can't really effectively do my job as far as on the court. The x-rays show a lot of arthritic changes. There is no joint space left. My goal was really to try to get through another year. I thought that after basketball season, without the traveling and dragging my bags around, it wouldn't be as painful but it actually has progressively gotten worse."

Lunt, entering his 18th season with the Seminoles and one of the staff's most respected trainers, had hoped to delay the surgery until next year. However, he is in obvious discomfort, walking with a noticeable limp and barely sleeping at night.

Lunt and fellow FSU trainers will leave for their annual convention on Friday. Upon his return, the basketball staff is scheduled to move into their new digs next Tuesday. Lunt is scheduled for surgery mid-July. He should return to work in mid-September -- practice begins the following month.

"I just thought it wouldn't be as progressing as quickly as it has," Lunt said. "I can't interact with my (three) kids as much -- I can't catch them anymore. It makes it tough. Some nights I can't sleep. The big thing, if a person goes down on the (basketball) floor, I have to be able to get out there and make an assessment. My days of being a big, strong guy and lifting people up are over. But I still need to be able to get out there and determine what needs to be done next."

Lunt knows what needs to be done next in his case -- a new hip. He has chatted with FSU coaches who have undergone the same procedure -- Chip Baker, Mickey Andrews and Jim Gladden. Lunt will eventually need surgery on his left hip as well.

Monitoring and making decisions for his team and other FSU student-athletes comes naturally for Lunt. Now, he must take care of himself after experiencing discomfort in his lower back and hip for the last few years.

"I kind of talked to everybody," Lunt said.

"I don't know how they were able to do it, obviously coaching and having to be active all the time. It's not fun. It's aggravating. You try to grin and bear through it but sooner or later you have to make that decision. I just want to get to a point where I can start exercising again. Now, I can't do anything without being laid up for days.

"I figured I was just feeling back and hip pain because I was out of shape. The reality of it was the hip was deteriorating. Eventually, I will have to get the left one replaced, too, but hopefully that's going to be a few years down the road. But it's just best to get it (right hip) out of the way. It certainly hasn't made life comfortable."


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