N.C. State will likely start the basketball season without freshman forward Richard Howell, who injured his left knee in preseason workouts.
Howell, State's top-rated freshman, had surgery to repair the meniscus in his left knee and is still on crutches, Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe said Friday at the team's media day.
"We're certainly counting on him to help us out this year," Lowe said. "We hate that we're going to miss him early."
Howell, a 6-8, 255-pound forward, injured his knee during an on-court workout at the end of September, he said. By his own estimation, he's about 75 percent.
"It's getting a lot better," Howell said. "My rehab is going quicker than expected."
The rehab will take about five weeks, Lowe said, which would keep Howell out of the Nov. 12 opener against Georgia State and likely the first few weeks of the season while he returns to practice and gets back up to speed.
"I'll be fine," Howell said. "When the season really gets serious, I think I'll be fine."
Scout.com rated Howell the 65th-best prospect in the class of 2009, five spots ahead of fellow freshman forward DeShawn Painter.
State previously lost the 28th-best prospect in the class, guard Lorenzo Brown, to prep school.