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Northwestern’s Drew Crawford eyeing fifth season after shoulder surgery

Swingman Drew Crawford was named an Academic All-American first NU has had 16 years. | Mike Conroy~AP

Swingman Drew Crawford was named an Academic All-American, the first NU has had in 16 years. | Mike Conroy~AP

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Updated: January 17, 2013 6:49AM

What Northwestern senior forward Drew Crawford described as a ‘‘calculated decision’’ was just that.

He spent a lot of time talking with his family and coach Bill Carmody before deciding he would have surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder and miss the rest of the season.

As long as Crawford is granted a medical hardship and a fifth season of eligibility, which Carmody is confident will be the case, he will be pain-free and at his best for his final college season. That wasn’t going to be the case this season.

‘‘I knew I was going to have to have surgery eventually, but . . . I was hoping I would be able to finish the year and kind of fight through it,’’ Crawford said. ‘‘But it continually got worse, and I wasn’t able to do that.’’

Crawford initially suffered the injury during a game against Iowa as a sophomore. He used his arm to brace himself as he fell to the floor, and his shoulder popped out of place. He said it has popped out five times since.

‘‘The biggest thing was the physicality around the basket,’’ he said. ‘‘When a shot goes up and I turn to block out, I’ve got the big guys coming behind me. I’m trying to hit them with my arm, and that’s popping my shoulder out. That’s searing pain, and it’s sore for days after that. It was tough.’’

Carmody said freshman Kale Abrahamson likely will start in Crawford’s place when the Wildcats host Texas State on Monday at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Sanjay Lumpkin and Nikola Cerina also can expect more playing time.

NU (7-3) has struggled to score all season and now has lost its leading scorer. Crawford averaged 16 points last season and was averaging 13.5 this season.

‘‘I don’t feel bad about our depth,’’ Carmody said. ‘‘As long as the guys who are in produce, there won’t be a big drop-off. I feel pretty confident about that.’’

The decision for Crawford to have surgery had to be made before the game Monday. Under NCAA rules, a player can participate in no more than 30 percent of his team’s games in a season to be eligible for a medical-redshirt waiver. If Crawford had played Monday, he would have played in more than 30 percent of the Wildcats’ games this season and wouldn’t have been eligible for the waiver.

‘‘He’s eligible to get it, and it seems like he’s a pretty good candidate to get it,’’ Carmody said of the extra season.

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