Xavier starting power forward Zach Freemantle will miss at least four weeks with a left foot injury, Musketeers coach Sean Miller told CBS Sports.
The senior is a key frontcourt piece for the 16th-ranked Musketeers (17-5), who are tuning up for a big home tilt Wednesday against No. 17 Providence (17-5). Those schools are tied with Marquette atop the Big East, all at 9-2 in the conference. Freemantle is averaging 15.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists while shooting a stellar 58.5% from the field.
Freemantle recently hurt the same foot he had surgery on in the fall of 2021, when he underwent surgery for a stress reaction and was operated on by Dr. Mark Drakos, a doctor with the New York Knicks.
Miller said this injury will not require surgery.
"We're optimistic he'd return the last week of the season or be available for the Big East Tournament," Miller told CBS Sports. "Sooner than that is not an option. Coming back sooner would put him further at risk."
Miller later emphasized, "Unless he has some type of setback with his healing, he clearly would be back for the Big East Tournament."
Freemantle started to experience slight discomfort in his left foot in Xavier's Jan. 25 win at UConn, then felt more severe pain in Xavier's loss at Creighton on Saturday. Doctors are keeping Freemantle in a walking boot for the next two weeks; Miller said the plan is to have Freemantle walking on a treadmill and going through light shooting drills without a boot by mid-February.
With Freemantle out, Miller said 6-foot-8 senior Jerome Hunter will move into the starting lineup and see his minutes increase. Freshman Desmond Claude, a key reserve, is also likely to see more playing time, as Xavier will shift to a smaller lineup in Freemantle's absence.