Fudd was playing at USA Basketball’s under-18 3x3 tournament in Colorado Springs on Saturday when she drove to the basket and absorbed contact from her defender mid-hop. She came back down to the floor off-balance, her foot slipped, and her right knee buckled.
“I heard three different pops,” Fudd said. “I felt it right away. I’ve never felt so much pain in my life.”
Fudd traveled to Denver to get an MRI exam Saturday and received the results that night.
“Right after I got hurt, I cried because I knew there was no way there could be a positive outcome,” Fudd said. “So I wasn’t surprised with [the results], but I still had some hope it wouldn’t be as bad. It was a sad night.”
Fudd, ranked by ESPN as the top player in the Class of 2021, was coming off a celebrated sophomore season in which she averaged 25.8 points, led the Cadets to their third straight Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship and fourth straight D.C. State Athletic Association championship and received multiple national player of the year awards. She was the first sophomore and the first player from the D.C. area to win the Gatorade award.
St. John’s wrapped up its season this month at the Geico Nationals, falling to New Hope Academy in the national title game.
Fudd said she received support from her Cadets teammates immediately following her injury, and it has helped her through the early aftermath. Her leg is in a cast because doctors are trying to allow the MCL to heal to some degree before they embark on any kind of surgery.
With the MCL and the ACL both torn, the timetable for her return to the court could be complicated. Timothy Hewett, who heads up sports medicine research at the Mayo Clinic and is an expert on the mechanics of ACL injuries but has not treated Fudd, said the recommended timetable for a typical ACL injury is nine months, at minimum.
If there are multiple tears, as in Fudd’s injury, the minimum is 12 months in most cases, and a return could take up to 24 months depending on the severity of the injury and the healing process. Hewett said waiting for an MCL tear to heal without surgery would take approximately three months.
Fudd is the third prominent player in the past five months from the WCAC to suffer an ACL injury.
Paul VI five-star junior guard Jeremy Roach tore his right ACL in late November and had surgery in December. Paul VI four-star senior guard Anthony Harris tore his ACL in early December, underwent surgery shortly after and is on track for a timely recovery, set to hit the court in August.
Fudd, who has earned a reputation as an aggressive player on both ends of the floor, said that suffering a knee injury has long been one of her “biggest nightmares."
“I’ve had friends that have torn their ACLs, and it’s awful,” Fudd said. “This was one of my biggest fears.”
Samantha Pell contributed to this report.