Duke offers detailed look at Kyrie’s toe rehab

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Finally. A foot video that has nothing to do with Rex Ryan.

Duke released a video detailing the status of injured freshman Kyrie Irving, who hasn’t played since injuring the tendons in his right big toe on Dec. 4 vs. Butler. It doesn’t say when or if the star guard will return in time for the NCAA tournament, but does paint a promising picture.

In it, he and Duke physical therapist Nick Potter show what Irving’s doing for rehab and how it’s affecting his toe.

“The overall progress is that he’s doing fairly well,” Potter says. “We knew from the beginning it’s a long, gradual process. He’s actually right where we expected him to be, if not maybe a step ahead.”

A return would give Duke a huge boost heading into March. The Devils have been good without Irving – nice work by Nolan Smith there – but his presence would certainly make them the title favorites.

Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski has said for months that he doubts Irving will play again this season. That’s the smart move for Irving’s NBA prospects, given that a rushed return could cause lingering foot problems.

Iriving doesn’t sound worried.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel,” Irving says. “Whether I come back this year or somewhere in the future, I’m going to be playing again.” 

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Stanford loses key veteran guard to stress fracture

Marcus Allen
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Stanford guard Marcus Allen will be out indefinitely after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot, the school announced on Monday evening.

“We want to make sure Marcus is fully healthy before returning to the court,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said in a statement. “Marcus played at a high level during our summer exhibition competition in Italy, where he was one of our leading scorers. We will certainly miss him as we continue to prepare for the season, but we are fortunate that this happened now and he will be back before he knows it.”

The loss of Allen is a potentially brutal blow in an already-thin back court. The 6-foot-3 Allen started 23 games as a sophomore last season, averaging 6.4 points and 3.5 boards. But he averaged 11.4 points and 5.4 boards as the Cardinal made a run to the NIT championship and looked poised to be able to replace the departed Chasson Randle’s production this year.

What’s worse is that without Allen, Stanford does not return a single player in their back court that averaged more than 11.5 minutes. Sophomore Robert Cartwright looks poised to step into the starting point guard role, but neither Dorian Pickens nor Christian Sanders looked like they were ready for that kind of role in the Pac-12 last season. Dawkins does return Malcolm Allen, Marcus’ twin brother, who sat out last season with a broken wrist.

The good news is that Stanford’s front court is strong enough to carry the Cardinal until Marcus is healthy. Rosco Allen, Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey will be able to hold their own against any front line in the Pac-12, while Grant Verhoeven and freshman Josh Sharma will provide adequate depth.

Utah lands top-75 center Jayce Johnson

Larry Krystkowiak
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Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.

Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.

Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.