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USC's Dewayne Dedmon goes to his left

The 7-foot sophomore center has developed his left-handed shooting and other basketball skills since suffering a broken right hand. It's going to help, Coach Kevin O'Neill says.

October 26, 2011|By Baxter Holmes

Dewayne Dedmon eats and writes with his left hand but had played basketball almost exclusively with his right.

USC's 7-foot redshirt sophomore center had wanted to change that and improve his left-handed skills on the court. He just never made time.

Then he suffered a broken right hand on Oct. 11, giving him a few weeks to try.

"It's a blessing and a curse," the Lancaster native said.

USC Coach Kevin O'Neill mostly sees the blessing. Dedmon's dribbling, passing, catching, dunking and shooting with his left hand have improved mightily.

"The guy couldn't even catch it left-handed, let alone shoot it. He didn't even dunk it left-handed," O'Neill said. "Now he's dunking everything left-handed. In the long run, it's going to help."

Dedmon, touted by O'Neill as a possible NBA lottery pick though he has yet to play a minute of Division I basketball, practices with his right hand heavily protected. He's been wearing a cast that looks like a large boxing glove.

The hard cast is surrounded by three layers of bubble tape wrapped with a roll of medical tape.

"I've always wanted to work on my left hand," Dedmon said. "I feel like this is forcing me to do it."

The fracture in his right hand, which is just above the knuckle of his index finger, is scheduled to be reevaluated next week.

It's expected that he'll play in USC's season opener Nov. 11 against Cal State Northridge, possibly wearing a brace, even if his hand is not completely healed.

Battle scars

Aside from Dedmon, USC has several players dealing with injuries.

Junior center James Blasczyk has been sidelined since suffering a concussion in a collision during a practice earlier this week.

Sophomore guard Maurice Jones has been struggling with a strained tendon in his right ankle that he reinjured in practice Wednesday.

Redshirt sophomore forward Evan Smith has been out after reinjuring his left shoulder on Oct. 16. An injury to that shoulder forced Smith to miss all of last season, and it's likely that he'll be limited and possibly miss games early this season.

Sophomore forward Curtis Washington (shoulder) and senior guard Jio Fontan (knee) are both progressing with rehab after undergoing season-ending surgeries.

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

twitter.com/baxterholmes

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