Todd Howard

Forward D.J. McCall becomes IUPUI’s first 2014 commitment

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With two of his four seniors for the 2013-14 season being perimeter players, IUPUI head coach Todd Howard could use some good fortune on the recruiting trail when it comes to accounting for those departures.

On Sunday coach Howard and his staff received the good news they’d been hoping for, as 6-5 small forward D.J. McCall verbally committed to attend the Summit League school as reported by Kyle Neddenriep of the Indianapolis Star.

McCall, who attends Concordia HS in Fort Wayne, Ind., averaged 17 points and five rebounds per game last season on a team that reached the Indiana Class 3A state title game.

The coaching staff’s active recruiting and the ability to play for a program close to home played a role in McCall’s decision to commit to IUPUI.

“(The IUPUI coaches) went to every game in July so I knew they had a good interest in me,” McCall said. “I really like the city aspect of going to IUPUI and I’ve heard nothing but great stuff and had a good (unofficial) visit there. And I really like the coaches, especially (assistant coach David Padgett). We’ve built a really good relationship.”

McCall said moving into the renovated Fairgrounds Coliseum also was a selling point for IUPUI. He said he also considered offers from UMass-Lowell and Gardner-Webb, but didn’t want to go that far from home.

McCall’s commitment serves as much-needed good news for a program that won just one conference game in 2012-13. Finishing the season with an overall record of 6-26 (1-15 Summit League) the Jaguars welcome back center Mitch Patton (13.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg), and Ian Chiles returns after playing in just four games due to injury.

In fact, Chiles was one of four players to miss a significant portion of the 2012-13 season due to injury, and the combination of poor health with the loss of leading scorer John Hart (academics) did IUPUI no favors last year.

Of the seven players to have started at least ten games in 2012-13 Patton is the lone returnee, but with everyone healthy the Jaguars look to be in better shape. Their hope is that this remains the case when practices begin in October.

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 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.