Bill Grier

San Diego, head coach Bill Grier agree to contract extension

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After leading San Diego to the quarterfinals of the Tournament last season, head coach Bill Grier has been rewarded with a contract extension. The school made the official announcement earlier this week.

“We have made progress getting back to a winning record, and reaching postseason play. There is still much work to be done,” San Diego executive director of athletics Ky Snyder said in the release. “I have great confidence in coach Grier and his staff to continue elevating this program. ”

In seven seasons as the head coach at San Diego, Grier has put together a record of 102-128 and has led the Toreros to their only three postseason wins in program history. Prior to winning two games in last season’s CIT, Grier also led San Diego to a win over UConn in the 2008 NCAA tournament.

San Diego finished the 2013-14 season with an 18-17 record, going 7-11 in WCC play. The Toreros, who will take a summer trip to Rome in August, return three of their top four scorers from a season ago. Guards Johnny Dee (16.6 ppg), Duda Sanadze (12.9, 3.7 rpg) and Christopher Anderson (10.3, 3.7, 6.2 apg) all return, but San Diego will have to account for the graduation of leading rebounder Dennis Kramer (11.5, 6.6).

Two key players in that regard will be forwards Jito Kok and Semi Fajemisin, with the former averaging 4.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game in 2013-14.

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.