The University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team received devastating news that star junior guard E.C. Matthews will miss the entire season after suffering a right knee injury in Friday night’s 65-42 season-opening victory over American University.

The injury occurred approximately nine minutes into the 2015 campaign. Over 5,000 students and spectators in the Ryan Center crowd held their collective breaths when several teammates helped Matthews off the court after suffering a knee injury.

“He’s one of the greatest kids you’ll ever coach,” Rhode Island head coach Dan Hurley said. “He stands for all the right things. He’s got a great family. He’s been a pillar of this thing here. No one can match his work ethic or dedication.”

Matthews released a statement over the weekend to confirm that he will miss the remainder of the 2015 season. The statement reads, “While the news has been a lot to process in such a short period of time, I know that it is a temporary setback and I will be back stronger and hungrier than ever before. I plan on using this setback as an opportunity to continue to grow as a student, a leader, and a man. I will need my brothers – my teammates and coaches – to help me through this. I understand the challenge of this journey and I am built to conquer this obstacle.”

Matthews was projected to be a candidate for the Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year. The Rams had high expectations of contending for an Atlantic 10 title and potentially end an NCAA tournament drought that extends to 1999.

Matthews was selected with teammate junior Hassan Martin to the preseason Atlantic 10 All Conference First Team this season. Matthews has grown over the last three seasons into one of the most important and talented players on the roster for the Rams. Towson transfer Four McGlynn, a fifth-year senior with over 1,000 points scored in his career replaced Matthews and finished 4-6 from the three-point range and scored 15 points to lead the Rams.

“If he’s patient and waits for his opportunities he’s going to shoot a very, very high percentage from three and he’s going to be a real weapon for us,” said Hurley.