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All but one member of the Utah State University men's basketball team reported to campus this month for offseason conditioning and workouts as the team has departed from its normal offseason schedule in light of an overseas trip in August.
Crew Ainge, the son of former BYU standout and current Boston Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge, will join the team later this summer as an incoming freshmen after he returns from an LDS mission. The players will have July off and return to campus on Aug. 3.
Ainge, a 5-foot-11 point guard, will be with the team for it's 10 allotted practices in August leading into its tour in Italy from Aug. 16-26. The tour schedule includes games against four international teams as well as stops in Rome, San Marino, Trieste and Lake Como. The team will return to campus one day before the start of the fall semester.
"We started planning on this, trying to take a trip, my first year," Aggies head coach Tim Duryea said during the recent Aggies in the Outfield event at Smith's Ballpark. "We had a trip last summer to China contracted, then the people in China backed out and so we didn't get to go. We would've been last summer in China. When that fell through, we went to work on trying to figure out another place to go."
Newcomers Brock Miller, Dwayne Brown and DeAngelo Isby have already reported to campus. Miller, a 6-foot-5 wing, served a mission after he graduated from Brighton High School. Brown, a 6-foot-7 forward, and Isby, a 6-foot-5 guard, signed out of junior college. Duryea plans to deploy Brown, who can play on the wing, as a stretch four.
Aside from the three seniors, the only player not returning to the program is backup center Ngor Barnaba. Barnaba received a release from his scholarship in March. The Aggies will embark on their foreign trip with nine players who are either freshmen or sophomores.
"When you're a young team, which we are again this year, I just think its invaluable to kind of get a head start," Duryea said.
The team has been working out under the direction of new strength coach David Land, who came over from Murray State, including 6 a.m. running sessions on Merlin Olsen Field.
Recent graduate Jalen Moore, an all-conference and all-district honoree as a senior, has been working out for NBA teams this spring following his participation in the Portsmouth Invitational pre-draft camp.
Moore, a North Logan resident and Sky View High School graduate, finished his USU career ranked ninth in scoring (1,645 points), tied for 15th in rebounds (654), seventh in blocks (69) and eighth in 3-pointer made (172). He has several workouts lined up for this week including visits with the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls.
Moore's classmate Shane Rector has hired an agent with plans to pursue a professional career overseas according to Duryea.
Easy come, easy go
Former Aggies center Carson Shanks announced on social media in March that he'd be returning to the program as a fifth-year senior after graduating from the University of North Dakota. Last month, he announced he'd instead transfer to Loyola University in Chicago.
Duryea confirmed that Shanks, who left the program during the 2013-14 season after one semester, would've re-joined the program as a walk-on because the Aggies had no available scholarships.
Shanks' abrupt change of mind resulted from a scholarship offer from Loyola, which is closer to his home state of Minnesota.
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