MACOMB, Ill. (WGEM) -- Ceola Clark wasn't able to end his career on his own terms.
But he will be able to leave Western Illinois as one of the most decorated players to ever step foot on the floor at Western Hall.
Western athletic officials released what Leatherneck fans were hoping they wouldn't on Monday afternoon.
Clark tore the ACL in his right knee when he tried to make a cut in last Monday's Summit League semifinal loss to North Dakota State ending Clark's six year career in Macomb.
Head coach Jim Molinari provided some perspective following Monday night's practice.
"(The team) really cares about their peers so they feel a great sadness for him," Molinari said.
"But Ceola has had a tremendous year, a tremendous career, and the good thing is with that injury, although it's an ACL, it's one that can heal in six months and he'll come back stronger than ever."
Junior Adam Link says all the players can do is move forward.
"Losing Ceola is a tough blow, but I feel like it's time for us to step up," Link indicated.
"It's time to get a little preview of what we can do for next season.
Clark ends his career as the program leader in games played, three-point field goals, and steals. He's second in assists and eighth on the all-time scoring list.
He's expected to undergo a six month recovery and remains hopeful of a professional career.
Clark released a statement through the university:
"It obviously hurts that I am unable to be on the court with my teammates for the College Basketball Invitational. I have been through so much with my team, so many great memories with them, and to not be able to play in the postseason with them is difficult. But I will be with the team, supporting them, and just want to be another coach out there on the sidelines, try and help them any way I can.
I went and talked to my doctor, whom I have a great relationship with, and he told me that I had an ACL injury and that the rehab process would be tough. He felt that in five or six months I could make a full recovery and be back on the court playing up to my full potential.
My surgery will be in roughly two weeks from today (March 18). The road to recovery will be tough, but I know that I can get through it. I definitely plan on continuing pursuit of my dream to play professional basketball. I know that if I keep working hard, I can get back to normal, and prove to coaches and scouts that I can play at the next level.
My time at Western has been great. My six years here have probably been the best six years of my playing career. The best six years of my life. It was a challenge to fight and help turn this program around, but seeing the results and helping put Western Illinois basketball on the map was worth it.
The fans were a huge part of that turnaround. Seeing the attendance grow during my time here was awesome. I really appreciate all of the people that have been supporting me here at Western from the beginning of my career, helping grow as a player and young man.
It has been a blessing to be a part of Western Illinois and I will always be a member of the Leatherneck family."
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