Matt Mooney was supposed to arrive in Colorado Springs this week and begin basic training with the incoming freshman class Thursday.
Instead, the 6-foot-2 basketball player was headed for surgery Wednesday to repair a broken fibula with his future at the academy very much in doubt. Because the injury, suffered while riding a bicycle with his brother, will prevent Mooney from completing basic training he has been disqualified from entering the academy year.
Mooney, a combo guard and an accomplished shooter, was one of just two freshmen expected to join the Falcons basketball team directly out of high school this year. Others will join via the prep school, but only Mooney and forward Austin Flues were set to join directly.
Air Force coaches cannot publicly comment on players until they have officially entered the school, a policy which at times seems unnecessary until a situation like this arises that serves as a reminder that nothing is guaranteed when it comes to getting into the academy. Someone with knowledge of the situation said Mooney - no relation to former Falcons coach Chris Mooney - is very upset and still exploring options to either come to the academy next year or attend the prep school this year. He might also opt to rehab at home in the Chicago area and take online courses.
"Actually, it could be a blessing in disguise," Mooney told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I'll have the extra year to mature and develop, and I can slowly get used to Air Force and the military lifestyle."
The Sun-Times reported that Mooney was riding in a forest preserve near his home in Wauconda, Ill. He was on a bike after doctors had recommended he avoid running and jumping for a week due to an inflamed foot. Mooney told the paper he opted for a bike to stay in shape before reporting to Colorado Springs and that the accident occurred when his back wheel slipped during a turn.
In addition to the broken left fibula, Mooney tore the deltoid ligament in the same leg.