Ute men’s basketball center Jayce Johnson will be sidelined up to a month with a broken foot

Utah’s projected starting center is expected to be available for the Nov. 8 season opener

Utah forward Jayce Johnson pulls down a rebound as, from back left, Colorado forward Lucas Siewert and guards George King and Tyler Bey defend during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Feb. 2, 2018, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Jayce Johnson, Utah's projected starting center as a junior, will miss two to four weeks of basketball practice after breaking a bone in his foot, Ute coach Larry Krystkowiak said Thursday.

During the Utes' first week of official practice, Johnson broke the third metatarsal bone in his foot. “As far as where it's broken, it's in the best spot. So it's the best of the bad news,” Krystkowiak said.

Even if Johnson's recovery requires four weeks, he may be available for the Utes' Nov. 1 exhibition game vs, College of Idaho. The Utes open the season Nov. 8 vs. Maine. What's lost, though, is important conditioning and development time for Johnson, who was bothered by plantar fasciitis in his foot last season.

Johnson averaged 5.5 points and 5.4 rebounds in 16.8 minutes of 30 games last season, mostly playing behind David Collette, then a senior. A lack of conditioning, mostly attributable to the injury, was a limiting factor in his playing time, Krystkowiak said.

Speaking during an informal media day last week before the Utes officially started practicing, Johnson said, “I'm very curious what I could do if I stay on the court longer. There's always more and more I can add to my game. I've really made strides in my conditioning and I'm really happy where I am right now.”

In Johnson's absence, Novak Topalovic, a graduate transfer from Idaho State, likely becomes the team's top center, backed up by junior Marc Reininger. The Utes also have considerable flexibility with smaller lineups.

Krystkowiak expects to use as many as 10 or 11 players in his rotation, he said Thursday, allowing for more pressing and running.

Sophomore forward Donnie Tillman was a dominant force in the media-viewing portion of Thursday’s practice. Krystkowiak listed freshman forward Timmy Allen and senior guard Parker Van Dyke as the most consistent players during the Utes' first six sessions.