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USC loses Hackett because of broken jaw

September 30, 2007|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

USC sophomore point guard Daniel Hackett will be sidelined at least six weeks after suffering multiple fractures of his jaw Thursday afternoon when he was struck by the elbow of teammate O.J. Mayo during a pickup game at the Galen Center.

Hackett said Mayo grabbed a rebound and turned to pass before smacking Hackett on the left side of his jaw. Hackett was taken to a hospital and had surgery Friday to wire shut his jaw, which was broken in three places.

"It's sore right now," Hackett said Saturday afternoon by telephone after returning to campus. "I can't eat, I can barely talk."

The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Hackett, who started 16 games last season and averaged 5.3 points and 2.9 rebounds, said he cannot practice for six weeks, meaning he will sit out the Trojans' opener Nov. 10 against Mercer at the Galen Center.

The Trojans' ball-handling duties probably will be split between Mayo and freshman Angelo Johnson in Hackett's absence. The NCAA Clearinghouse certified Johnson, a 5-10 guard from Simi Valley Stoneridge Prep, earlier this month.

Hackett said Mayo wrote him a note of apology and has checked in with him repeatedly since the accident.

"Obviously, he didn't want to do it," Hackett said. "He didn't want to hurt me. He said he was sorry about what happened and told me to stay strong."

Hackett was projected as a potential starter this season after spending the summer playing with the Italian under-20 national team. His star has been rising since a breakthrough performance last season in the second round of the NCAA tournament in which he scored a career-high 20 points and helped contain Texas' Kevin Durant.

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ben.bolch@latimes.com

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