Mike Tobey, Reggie Bullock

Mononucleosis sidelines Virginia forward/center Mike Tobey indefinitely

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With Darion Atkins missing four of the last five games due to a stress reaction in his shin, the last thing Virginia needed in advance of tonight’s home game against Clemson was another front court injury.

But that’s what Tony Bennett will have to deal with, as the school announced on Thursday afternoon that freshman forward/center Mike Tobey is out indefinitely due to a case of mononucleosis.

Entering Thursday the 6-11 Tobey averaged 6.5 points and 2.5 rebounds per game, shooting 53.2% from the field. The freshman suffered a broken nose back in December but did not miss any game action.

In the eight games before playing just nine minutes in the Cavaliers’ loss at Georgia Tech on Sunday, Tobey averaged 17.6 minutes per game.

With Tobey and Atkins both out of the lineup this places even more pressure on Akil Mitchell, who is currently averaging 12.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Clemson features forwards Devin Booker and Milton Jennings, who combined for 36 points and 20 rebounds in Clemson’s 59-44 win over Virginia on January 12.

Tobey finished that game with six points on 3-of-9 shooting but began to show signs of improvement in the games since, most notably scoring 13 points and grabbing seven rebounds in Virginia’s 58-55 win over NC State.

At 15-6 (5-3 ACC) on the season Tony Bennett’s team has a solid record, but with some of the bad losses on their resume (most notably Old Dominion) Virginia needs to go on a run down the stretch if they’re to ultimately reach the NCAA tournament.

If Virginia is to make a run at an NCAA bid they’ll need to give Mitchell some help on the glass. Virginia’s second-best rebounder is leading scorer Joe Harris, who is grabbing an average of four caroms per game and freshman wing Justin Anderson is averaging 3.0 rebounds per contest.

The Cavaliers do a good job of dictating tempo, with the 63 possessions played in their ACC opener against North Carolina being the highest they’ve played in conference play. But in slower games a rebounding problem can become even more costly, making it imperative that other Cavaliers step up.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej

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.