"You know when something is strange," McDonald said in describing the injury on Monday afternoon. "Once I came down and tried to make a move, I felt a buckle in my knee. It went out and came back in. I fell to the ground and felt pain, but then after a while, I just couldn't really feel anything. I felt soreness, but I just really couldn't feel anything. I was able to walk off the court, so walking wasn't an issue, but they took the X-ray the next day and told me I tore my ACL."
Team orthopaedist Dr. Alex Creighton performed McDonald's surgery at UNC Hospitals on Wed., Aug. 3.
"It went well – it went really good," McDonald said. "The doctors told me it was 100 percent good. I should recover 100 percent. It feels fine right now, so I know they've been doing a good job with it."
McDonald admitted to being "very emotional" about receiving the news that he had torn his ACL and took a day or two to vent and come to grips with the injury. But he quickly decided that there was no point in moping around.
"The first thing for me was to get the operation over with and try to get back as soon as possible," McDonald said. "If there is a possibility of me getting back, then there's a possibility. If it's not, then I'll take a medical red-shirt and just get my leg stronger for the next year. But at the same time, I do desire to play with this squad this year because this is going to be a good year."
The original time frame McDonald received was the standard six-month recovery time for an ACL tear, but the addition of his meniscus repair is thought to extend his rehabilitation period to 7-8 months. Seven months from McDonald's surgery date is Mar. 3, 2012 – the day of UNC's regular season finale at Duke.
McDonald stressed that it's too early to know when he would potentially be able to return, and that information will play a significant role in his decision to take the court this season or take a medical red-shirt.
"It just depends on the body of the person, because the doctors and trainers wouldn't have thought or imagined that I'd be walking without an unlocked brace three weeks and five days after the surgery," McDonald said.
The Memphis, Tenn. native indicated that he has made solid progress with regard to keeping his knee in motion and can bend his leg 90 degrees. He is still working on extending his leg and his current primary focus is rebuilding strength in his right leg post-surgery.
McDonald averaged 7.0 points per game in 2010-11 and ranked second on the team with 51 made 3-pointers.