When it takes the court Friday, the South Carolina men's basketball team will not have Dominique Archie in its starting lineup for the first time in four years.
But the news on the senior forward's knee injury could have been much worse.
Archie has a sprained right knee and will be out indefinitely, the team said Monday. His return date is unknown, and will depend largely on his rehabilitation.
USC guard Brandis Raley-Ross had a knee sprain last year and missed six games. But the 6-foot-7, 216-pound Archie might need more time to heal the injury enough to return to action.
"Dominique Archie is one of the hardest working players I've coached and I'm confident he will work just as hard in his rehabilitation with this injury as he does on the court," USC coach Darrin Horn said in a statement. "As a family, this is a time when we will pull together and continue to work toward our goals in his absence."
While Archie's timetable for a return is unknown, his importance to the Gamecocks became obvious after his injury.
South Carolina was leading Miami 9-2 on Sunday, after Archie threw down an open-court dunk, then crumpled to the floor. By halftime the Gamecocks were trailing by 3, and they ended up losing by 15, looking overmatched for much of the second half.
Archie was USC's leading scorer and rebounder for its first four games. He has been the team's most versatile player, capable of playing on the wing or inside, and was a matchup problem for many opposing defenses.
Before the season started, Horn reiterated how strongly he felt about Archie's status on the team.
"Devan (Downey) deserves everything he gets because of the kind of player that he is ... But Dominique Archie in my mind is right up there in terms of value to our team and ability to impact," Horn said.
Assistant coach Cypheus Bunton said he "wouldn't trade (Archie) for any other player in the league."
Raley-Ross, a good 3-point shooter, is likely to move into the starting lineup, with 6-foot-5 freshman Lakeem Jackson sliding over to Archie's small forward spot. Archie's loss also means the bench gets a little less deep.
South Carolina's next two games are against Jacksonville and Western Kentucky, two potentially challenging mid-major teams. Then USC visits Clemson, in a game that becomes a huge hurdle without Archie.
The Gamecocks open SEC play on Jan. 9 at Auburn. Whether Archie is available by then remains to be seen.