Cleanthony Early Active for 1st Time Since Being Shot in Knee

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2016

New York Knicks fans haven’t seen Cleanthony Early on the floor since a Dec. 23 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but that could change Sunday. 

Knicks PR announced the forward was “recalled from the Westchester Knicks and activated for tonight’s game” against the Sacramento Kings. Ian Begley of ESPN.com noted “Early was shot in the knee in late December.”

Ross Keith, Chris Sommerfeldt and Larry McShane of the New York Daily News said Early was “shot in the knee by a ski-masked robbery crew after a late-night strip club visit” on Dec. 30, 2015. The report pointed out he was shot in the same knee that needed arthroscopic surgery during his rookie campaign.

Early sent out a tweet in the aftermath of the incident:

Early has only played 10 games this season and is averaging 0.7 points and 0.2 rebounds a night. He flashed his potential as a rookie in 2014-15 in 39 games played with 5.4 points and 2.5 boards per contest but has not seen enough playing time early in his career to establish much consistency or momentum.

At his best, Early is a matchup problem as a 6’8” forward who can shoot from the outside and attack off the dribble.

According to Sports-Reference.com, Early was a consensus All-American in 2014 at Wichita State. He was a major piece of the Shockers team that finished 35-1 and earned a No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region in the 2014 NCAA tournament. The Knicks used a second-round pick on him in 2014 as part of their rebuilding efforts, and he could still be a primary part of their future considering he is only 24 years old.

Ideally, Early will develop into the versatile threat he was at Wichita State with the ability to score from all over the floor. Being back and healthy is an important first step.

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