The new hole below his right knee matched the old one in his left. It matched the hole he had surgically repaired in June 2015. That surgery forced him to sit out his first off-season and limp through his sophomore season. They told him it would go away with rest, but that’s the same thing they said last year — before it came back.
Lipscomb guard Aaron Korn had lived through this before, and he didn’t know if he could get through it again.
“I was having doubts if I was going to be able to play this year,” the junior said. “I had doubts that it would never be the same or that I would ever be healthy again, because the exact same thing happened last year. It started creeping in, and I didn’t know if I was gonna play or be the same ever again.”
But the stress fracture healed on its own, and Korn is averaging career-high minutes and has improved in every single statistical category this season. Just months after wondering about his future in college basketball, the six-foot-four guard is leading Lipscomb in three-point percentage at a blistering 44% clip, averaging the third-most rebounds on the team and has been playing at least 19 minutes in all but two games.
Korn developed a stress fracture in his left tibia, just below the knee, about a month after the last game of his freshman year. Team trainers shut him down for the rest of the off-season workout period, but once he tried to return, something wasn’t right. The fracture was still there.
He underwent surgery, including a knee scope, in June 2015. A frustrating year followed as he played fewer minutes than his freshman year on a team ravaged by injuries to its best offensive and defensive players (Josh Williams and Talbott Denny, respectively). Then, after the 2015-16 season, the same fracture appeared in his other knee.
“When I first found out about it in the summer I was devastated, because the same thing happened to my right leg that happened to my left, but the coaches were upset at the time, upset for me,” he said. “I just felt bad about myself for always being hurt, not being able to play.”
The training staff instructed him to rest — just like the ending of his freshman year. Any explosive activities were forbidden. Even jogging and bending down were too much.
“For that, you can’t do anything, you just have to rest,” Kord said. “It’s on your bone, a fracture, so I wasn’t supposed to do anything explosive off of it. I had to walk everywhere, wasn’t really supposed to bend down that much or jump, run, jog — anything. I literally couldn’t do anything, and it sucked.”
But once the sharpshooter returned to Nashville for the new semester and was cleared for preseason play, he had the best fall of his career.
“I was happy to be back, excited to be back and be healthy,” he said. “That transferred over to practice, and I was playing really well, shooting the ball really well, doing everything. I felt like I was always making the right play in practice, just had good energy and really felt like, all-around, I started playing better than I have my entire time being here.”
Now he’s playing sixth-man minutes on a Bison squad that’s fizzled in the second half of multiple games throughout its non-conference schedule, but it should be a contender once it opens ASUN play on January 7. He’s pulling down huge offensive rebounds in the Battle of the Boulevard at Allen Arena, and he’s continuing to shoot the lights out.
“I feel like I’m as confident as I’ve ever been at Lipscomb — just feeling like I’m trying to do my part for the team,” Korn said. “I just want to win and contribute, and I feel as healthy as I have since I’ve been here.
“I was out for months and then figured that the same exact thing would happen again. I got real worried to play, but knock on wood, I’ve been feeling pretty well.”
Photo courtesy of Lipscomb Athletics