Injury once again sidelines Ike Anigbogu during summer league

Pacers, Ike Anigobgu, NBA Summer League

LAS VEGAS — For the second straight summer, Ike Anigbogu is not participating in summer league due to injury. That’s why he was left off the 13-man rookie/free-agent camp roster, as I reported back on June 29th.

The Pacers’ 2017 second-round draft pick (47th overall) sat out of summer league last year in Orlando after tweaking his right knee during his pre-draft workout with the team. He didn’t start scrimmaging until October and then appeared in just 11 games. At just 19, the franchise remains cautious with his health.

While Anigbogu made the trip to Las Vegas with the Summer Pacers, he’s not in uniform. That’s because he recently had what he defined as “minor surgery” — but is there really such a thing? — and has been limited in what he can do.

“Definitely just using the summer to getting back to the best of my abilities,” Anigbogu told reporters last week. “Just going through whatever they tell me to. I had a minor surgery on my left leg to clean up some things. We’re just taking it day-by-day.”

Over the last two years alone, he has dealt with injuries to his right knee, left knee, and left foot.

“I want to him out on the court,” Pacers President Kevin Pritchard said on media day before the 2017-18 season. “He is a defensive presence right now. Today. That’s what he’ll bring. Whether he can pick up some concepts, whether he can get in great shape – he’s been banged up and bruised a little bit, he should be fine.”

Over the course of last season, he greatly benefited from the advice of veterans Al Jefferson, Thad Young, and Damien Wilkins. His locker was beside theirs. I specifically remember a conversation Young had with Anigobgu after a game about what he observed, how they played certain circumstances — and it was all a bit overwhelming to Anigbogu. Young explained how he not only needs to know every play from his position, but the other four spots too. That’s when things become easier.

All 30 teams are playing in the Las Vegas Summer League for the first time. Saturday the 82-game tournament recorded its second-ever sellout in history. It’s a combination of evaluation for teams, entertainment for fans, and a filler at this time of year in the sports world.

You will not see Anigbogu take the floor, however.

“He’s here to be with his teammates and cheer us on, “summer league head coach Steve Gansey said Saturday after their win over the Spurs. “He’s getting some work in with Jason (Manikowski), our strength coach, and getting some other stuff in on the court. He’s not going to play.”

Coach Gansey wants Anigbogu to be an active participant on the bench even though he’s not in uniform.

“I told Ike that he’s got to bring the fire,” Gansey said. “He’s got to be an assistant coach on the bench, get these guys going, and continue to absorb as much as we are coaching him. I know he’s not playing but he’s got to understand schemes and I keep asking him, ‘What do you see out there?’ He’s got to do that.”

Anigobgu’s college coach, Steve Alford of UCLA, sat courtside across from the Pacers’ team bench during their first and second games. He is primarily there to see his son, Bryce, who is one of four Bruins on the roster.

Anigbogu, who signed a two-year rookie deal, is fourth on the Pacers’ depth chart behind Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis, and Kyle O’Quinn.

UCLA Basketball, Steve Alford, Pacers, Aaron Holiday

UCLA coach Steve Alford sits with Ryan Carr, the Pacers’ Director of Player Personnel.

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