Tim Miles

Leslee Smith’s knee injury could change things for Nebraska freshman Jake Hammond

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On Tuesday it was reported that Nebraska senior power forward Leslee Smith was expected to miss the entire 2014-15 season after tearing the ACL in his left knee. Having posted averages of 5.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game last season, it would be easy for some to gloss over his absence as the Huskers look to earn a second consecutive NCAA tournament bid.

However with his size (6-foot-8, 255) Smith is a valuable piece for head coach Tim Miles, as he’s capable of helping Nebraska deal with some of the more physical interior players in the Big Ten.

The question for Nebraska to answer this summer is who steps up in Smith’s absence, with Nebraska needing some added interior depth to go along with returnee Walter Pitchford and graduate transfer Moses Ayegba. One option is 6-foot-10 freshman Jake Hammond, and according to Brian Rosenthal of the Lincoln Journal Star Smith’s injury could potentially change things for the newcomer.

So not only does Smith’s injury mean Hammond has, on the court, lost the teammate who’s helped him most, it also could change the true freshman’s plans entirely.

“Yeah, I might not be able to redshirt this year,” said Hammond, listed at 6-foot-10 and 227 pounds. “It is something I was probably going to do. But now that he’s hurt, I don’t know. That’s up in the air still.”

It’s noted in the story that redshirting was considered an option due to Hammond’s need to become stronger, and during Nebraska’s summer program he’s gained seven pounds. The freshman year can be a tough one for college players, especially when it comes to holding one’s own in a league like the Big Ten.

But due in large part to Smith’s knee injury, these remaining months before the start of practice have become far more important for Jake Hammond than he may have anticipated.

Report: Four-star center reclassifying to 2015; down to three

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An interesting recruiting development hit on Friday as Josh Gershon of Scout.com reported that four-star center Jayce Johnson is reclassifying to the Class of 2015 and looking to join a program at semester break.

The 7-foot native of California is down to Cal, Colorado and Utah and Johnson is on an official visit to Utah this weekend after transferring to a charter school this week. As Gershon notes, only Cal has a scholarship to offer Johnson this season, but the family is willing to pay a semester at the other programs if it’s the right fit. Johnson would like to redshirt and train with his future college while playing against more mature players.

But if Johnson is persuaded not to redshirt, he could be an intriguing big man off the bench later in the season for a couple of teams looking to make a postseason appearance. As the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson is a talented prospect and he isn’t afraid to score with either hand. With some time to fill out, Johnson can turn into a talented Pac-12 player down the road.

VIDEO: Utah Valley’s Mark Pope dances, lip syncs with daughters

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New Utah Valley head coach Mark Pope made quite an impression on fans at the team’s Midnight Madness celebration last night. That’s because Pope did a dance and lip sync routine with his four daughters that turned out to be pretty impressive.

The former BYU assistant looks to be the leader in the clubhouse for best coach dance so far this preseason. We’ll see if any other coaches pull out elaborate routines at madness celebrations the next few weeks.