Pacers Summer Hoops Clinic featuring Glenn Robinson III (copy)

Former Lake Central superstar and NBA Slam Dunk champion Glenn Robinson III suffered a high ankle sprain injury in late September and his status for the season with the Pacers is uncertain.

John J. Watkins, file, The Times

Glenn Robinson III has played and starred in an Ad infinitum number of basketball games around the country, at all levels.

And now comes the toughest challenge of his young life — the waiting game.

During the Pacers' Sept. 29 practice scrimmage, Robinson drove baseline, went airborne high above the rim for a dunk and his world came crashing down like precious crystal.

The Lake Central grad and former Michigan star suffered a high left ankle sprain when a defender stepped on him.

"The fall was ugly. My ankle was under my knee. It was all messed up," Robinson said afterward.

He missed training camp and the preseason while wearing a protective boot.

Ice and elevation, doctors told him.

"I was taking it week by week," said a hopeful Robinson.

The defending NBA Slam Dunk champion would miss two months, it was thought at first.

Then came the bad news: He would need surgery to repair medial and lateral ligaments in his ankle.

"We found out just when the swelling went down and he was able to put a little bit more weight on it," coach Nate McMillan told reporters Thursday. "They saw something 'different' than they initially thought.

"He's disappointed and so are we. At first, we thought it was a serious sprain and surgery wouldn't be required.''

The team has not given a time frame but it's been reported GR3 could miss 3 to 4 months.

And the long wait begins.

This was to be a breakout season for Robinson, 23, one of the Pacers' most athletic, explosive players.

He was considered a key part of the franchise's rebuild and it had planned a prominent role for him in the post-Paul George era.

The popular 6-foot-6, 222-pound guard/small forward averaged a career-high 6.1 points and 3.6 rebounds in 69 games (27 starts) last season, his second with the team.

He shot nearly 40 percent on 3-pointers, a skill all teams covet in today's game.

So while the Pacers, with their many new faces, struggle to develop chemistry, an identity, GR3 will play cheerleader.

"It's frustrating, especially the way I put a lot of work in this summer," he said before surgery was decided. "I was playing really well. This is my first injury.

"If anybody can get through this — and I've been through a lot in my four years in the league — I can."

His bumpy road through the NBA required a seat belt before finally returning "home."

The second-round draft pick had seen limited action with Minnesota and Philadelphia before hooking on with Indiana in 2015-16.

"I have a lot of confidence now, knowing how the team needs me," he said.

Friday night, GR3 had surgery to repair the ankle.

Saturday, we spoke for the first time since the procedure.

"I'm very thankful for all the support from my family, friends and fans," he said. "It's just a minor setback for what God has in store for me and I'll be back better than ever.

"We have an incredible training staff with the Pacers, who'll do an excellent job with my rehab."

It's a long NBA season, some say too long.

That gives GR3 plenty of time to heal up.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

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