ST. LOUIS — Saint Louis University is 14-3 after their win over Richmond Saturday.

It's one of the best starts in team history, but SLU could be even better right now if they had their starting guard, Fred Thatch Jr., on the court.

If you asked Travis Ford before the season, he would have told you that his big three were Hasahn French, Jordan Goodwin and Thatch. The Missouri High School player of the year from Sikeston was going to take the next step in his career and become a force on the collegiate level.

However, a mysterious illness has kept Thatch on the bench. First, his legs got sore, then they hurt, then he couldn’t run. 

Now, he sits on the end of the bench — a place he's not familiar with at all — watching and waiting.

“I feel like everything happens for a reason, personally,” Thatch said. “So, I wouldn’t say I’ve been depressed, just really frustrated.”

It's been 45 days since Thatch has played in a college basketball game. A condition called isolated myopathy — where the blood cells don't work properly — caused his body to break down.

“It took some time for it to get really bad,” Thatch said. “It started off like I was just really tired, and then that tired started turning to cramping. And then that cramping turned into just pain whenever I touched my legs and that pain turned into, like, I can’t even run.”

Doctors told Fred his legs were simply not able to get rid of the waste after a workout, so he was reduced to just some free throws.

“He’s handled it with incredible maturity,” Head Coach Travis Ford said. “Can you imagine, a 20-year-old who is going to be a star player for us and all of a sudden you don’t get to play and you don’t know exactly why?”

The good news is he has resumed practicing with the team and he's around his teammates. However, doctors have given him three potential options.

“The first one is they gotta’ watch over me, keep a close eye on me after exercising and games,” Thatch said. “The second level is I’m going to have to take a pill every day and steroids. And the third step is really bad an I won’t be able to play basketball at a D-I level anymore.”

It’s a serious concern for the 20-year-old guard from Sikeston, but it wouldn’t be as devastating as not being able to play basketball anymore.

“I don't what I would do if I can't play basketball at the D-I level, so I try not to think about it.”

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