|USC transfer Bryce Jones will be forced to delay his UNLV debut after a hand injury. (US Presswire)|
The West Coast has been down the past couple of seasons in terms of teams capable of making deep NCAA tournament runs. This season should be different; however, players on two teams with high expectations suffered injuries over the weekend. How much will that affect their long-term prospects?
UNLV – Bryce DeJean-Jones out 4-6 weeks with broken hand
DeJean-Jones, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Los Angeles, suffered the injury during a team workout last Thursday. The USC transfer broke two bones in his left hand and will be in a cast for four-to-six weeks. All signs from Vegas have pointed to DeJean-Jones starting immediately, so this is going to be a tough loss to swallow in the early part of the season.
Fortunately for the Runnin' Rebels, they have enough talent on their roster to withstand DeJean-Jones' injury. There are several candidates to step up in his absence. Justin Hawkins, one of the premier defenders in the Mountain West, was a solid sixth man last season and should be the same this year. After Hawkins, a couple of freshmen could be beneficiaries of Jones' injury. Katin Reinhardt, a top-50 prospect coming out of high school, is a lights-out shooter and can also go off the dribble. Although he is more of a frontcourt player, Savon Goodman's athleticism and ability to make plays at both ends of the floor could also be attractive to coach Dave Rice.
|Starting guard Tyler Lamb could miss UCLA's opener against Indiana State. (US Presswire)|
If the injury timetable is correct, DeJean-Jones' availability could be in question for the two Global Sports Classic games. On Nov. 23, the Rebels welcome Oregon to town, and then will play either Cincinnati or Iowa State the following night.
Tyler Lamb, a 6-foot-5 junior who started 32 games last season, will have arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday on his left knee. The timetable is set at four-to-six weeks, although coach Ben Howland is optimistic that Lamb will be back in four weeks. Lamb underwent a similar surgery before his freshman season and was only out for a month.
Even with the influx of newcomers in Westwood this season, Lamb was still set to start at the two-guard position. He averaged 9 points per game last season and was a very solid distributor on the team's trip to China in August. In his place, sophomore Norman Powell could see a boost in minutes. Powell was inconsistent last season, but showed flashes of being a decent scorer if given opportunity. Freshman swingman Jordan Adams is a knockdown shooter who can come in and hit 3-pointers with consistency. The X-factor in this scenario is the availability of freshman star Shabazz Muhammad. If Muhammad is cleared to play, a perimeter trio of Muhammad, Larry Drew II and Kyle Anderson would be sufficient. However, with Muhammad still waiting to hear from the NCAA, Howland will rely on Powell and Adams.
The Bruins kick the season off against Indiana State on Nov. 9. There is a chance that Lamb returns in time for that game. Perhaps a more accurate target for his return could be the Legends Classic at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. UCLA opens with Georgetown on Nov. 19, then will play Georgia or Indiana the next night.