Stew Morrill

Utah State announces plans for new practice facility

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With their move to the Mountain West, Utah State understood that improvements needed to be made to their facilities in order to compete consistently with the likes of New Mexico, UNLV and San Diego State.

On Thursday the school took an important step in that direction, as it announced plans for the building of a $9.5 million facility for its basketball and volleyball programs. The facility will be named after late USU basketball great Wayne Estes, and it’s an important carrot to have on the recruiting trail in the current era of college basketball.

Financing for the project received a major boost from USU boosters Jim and Carol Laub, who pledged a school-record $5.25 million for the project.

“Jim and Carol have played a critical role in the growth of our athletic enterprise in numerous ways over the years,” said USU athletic director Scott Barnes in a statement released by the school. “Their most recent lead gift to the Wayne Estes Center is a profoundly generous statement that speaks volumes about their devotion to Utah State University Athletics and our student-athletes.

“This comes at a pivotal time as we continue to make the climb in preparation for Mountain West competition.”

During Stew Morrill’s tenure at Utah State the Aggies have enjoyed a great deal of success, winning 20 game or more in every season that he’s been in charge with the exception of his first year (15-13 in 1998-99). With or without the new facility Utah State was a safe bet to be competitive in the Mountain West.

The hope for Utah State is that the presence of the new facility puts them in position to not just compete but flourish in their new conference.

“This facility is very important for multiple sports at Utah State. For men’s basketball, it is a much-needed facility to accommodate our program going forward in the Mountain West Conference,” said Morrill.

“It gives us greater flexibility in developing our players thru both regular practice as well as individual workouts. In addition, we will be adding office space that we have desperately needed.

“Both from a playing a recruiting standpoint, this is a great upgrade for Utah State Basketball.”

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

No. 13 Iowa State suspends Jameel McKay indefinitely

Iowa State forward Georges Niang, forward Jameel McKay, forward Abdel Nader and guard Deonte Burton celebrate after center Stuart Nezlek scored late in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Coppin State, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 104-84 (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)
AP Photo/Justin Hayworth
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Already lacking depth, No. 13 Iowa State will be short a key contributor Saturday when they take on Oklahoma State in Stillwater.

Friday night it was announced that senior forward Jameel McKay has been suspended indefinitely by head coach Steve Prohm and did not make the trip with the team. McKay, who’s been dealing with knee issues recently, is averaging 12.4 points and a team-high 9.0 rebounds per game on the season.

Over the last six games he’s averaging 7.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per contest, shooting 60.6 percent from the field.

McKay has been asked to man the middle for a team lacking in both size and depth, with Georges Niang shifting over to the five when McKay needs a break for either rest or foul trouble reasons. Without McKay even more responsibility falls upon the shoulders of Niang, Abdel Nader and Deonte Burton in the front court.

The Cyclones are looking to end a two-game losing streak, and even with Oklahoma State’s struggles accomplishing that gets tougher with McKay out of the lineup.

News of McKay’s suspension was first reported by the Ames Tribune.

UNLV dismisses guard Daquan Cook from team

Illinois v UNLV
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LAS VEGAS (AP) UNLV junior guard Daquan Cook has been dismissed from the team.

Interim coach Todd Simon made the announcement on Friday, though no reason was given.

Cook was suspended for 13 games by previous coach Dave Rice in November after being arrested and charged with DUI.

Cook appeared in two games this season after being reinstated, scoring three points in four minutes. He missed the 2014-15 season after tearing his right ACL and played 28 games as a sophomore.