Cal's Hampton could miss six weeks after knee surgery

Updated: November 9, 2007, 9:21 PM ET
Associated Press

BERKELEY, Calif. -- Devanei Hampton will miss up to the first six weeks of the season for No. 13 California after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery Friday.

Hampton, reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year, complained of pain in her right knee and underwent an MRI, which determined she needed a procedure to remove torn cartilage. Cal said the recovery time is expected to be four to six weeks, and coach Joanne Boyle is optimistic her star player will return on the short end of that time frame.

This is a big blow for the Golden Bears, who were looking forward to having their team intact after point guard Alexis Gray-Lawson returned from a season-ending knee injury that kept her out most of last season and required surgery.

"It's one of those things you just think, 'what next?''' Boyle said. "We've been here before. ... It's that initial crushing blow and you move on. There's nothing you can do about it except deal with it.''

Boyle said Hampton doesn't know when she hurt her knee, which has bothered her in the past, but she had a lot of random swelling over the last couple of weeks.

The 6-foot-3 Hampton, a junior center who earned All-Pac 10 first-team honors as a freshman and sophomore, was Cal's second-leading scorer and rebounder last season behind Ashley Walker, averaging 16.6 points and 8.0 rebounds. The Bears open the season Saturday at Fresno State.

Krista Foster or Rama N'diaye will likely start in Hampton's place for the first game.

"We will miss Devanei's interior presence in the lineup," Boyle said. "Devanei is one of the most dominating post players in the country. We have shown resiliency in the past, and I'm confident that we have the talent and drive to fight through this adversity."

Hampton, who played high school basketball at nearby Oakland Tech and was part of a highly regarded recruiting class two years ago, became the Bears' first women's player selected Pac-10 Player of the Year.

Cal lost 62-59 to Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA tournament last season.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press