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BYU basketball: Freshman center Eric Mika expected to play Thursday

Published: Friday, July 31 2015 7:59 a.m. MDT

Brigham Young Cougars center Eric Mika  yells after a slam dunk during NCAA action in Provo Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014.  (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Brigham Young Cougars center Eric Mika yells after a slam dunk during NCAA action in Provo Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

PROVO — BYU freshman forward Eric Mika is expected to be ready to play Thursday when the Cougars host Pepperdine.

In last Saturday’s 87-53 win over San Diego at the Marriott Center, the 6-foot-10 Lone Peak High product left the game twice due to injury.

Mika suffered a bruised hip and is dealing with soreness. He has been checked by doctors and "everything is good," according to BYU officials. He is listed as day to day.

Against San Diego, Mika scored 13 points and pulled down three rebounds. He is averaging 13.9 points and 6.4 rebounds this season.

HALFORD IS WCC PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Junior guard Skyler Halford earned West Coast Conference Player of the Week honors after pouring in a career-high 28 points in his first career start last Saturday against San Diego.

Halford knocked down 11 of 16 shots from the floor and 4 of 8 from 3-point territory.

He is the first BYU player to receive the weekly WCC award this season.

AYTES OFFICIALLY JOINS TEAM: With Monday marking the first day of winter semester classes at BYU, freshman forward Jamal Aytes participated in his first official practice with the Cougars.

The 6-foot-6, 230-pound forward is a San Diego native and a transfer from UNLV.

Due to NCAA transfer rules, Aytes won’t be eligible to play for BYU until next December.

“Jamal will be a great addition to our program,” coach Dave Rose said in December, when Aytes’ transfer to BYU was announced. “We’re excited to have him on our team. He’s an excellent low-post scorer and will have a positive impact on our front line.”

“I’m looking forward to being a part of BYU basketball,” Aytes said. “I feel very comfortable with the coaching staff and I think I’ll fit in really well. This is where I want to finish my college career.”

This season, Aytes played in four games for UNLV. He scored a season-high 10 points, on 5-of-8 shooting, against UC Santa Barbara. He averaged 2.8 points in 9.3 minutes per game for the Runnin’ Rebels.

Before enrolling at UNLV, Aytes attended JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., where he averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds per game and was named to the All-CIF Southern Division 4AA Team.

Also joining the Cougars Monday was Isaac Neilson, a 6-foot-10 center from Mission Viejo, Calif. He returned in December from a two-year mission in Alabama. He originally signed with BYU in November 2010. Neilson will redshirt this season and work on strength and conditioning before participating in practice.

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