Tim Hussin, Deseret Morning News
Murray junior Cameron Hodges has been a key contributor for the Spartans, helping the team to a 5-3 record in Region 6, good for third place.

MURRAY — Many things that Murray forward Cameron Hodges does on the basketball court rarely show up in a boxscore following a game. But that doesn't mean the senior fills an unimportant role by any means.

Hodges is a team leader in categories such as rebounds and deflections — specializing in the sort of hustle plays which become invaluable to any team harboring region or state title aspirations.

"You always need players like that," said senior guard and team captain Zach Lloyd. "They do all the dirty work. He's not selfish at all or anything. Doesn't need the glory or stuff like that. He's always for everybody else before he's for himself."

The Spartans came achingly close to not enjoying Hodges' contributions to their success this season.

A few months before his junior year of high school, Hodges traveled to Snow College for a summer basketball camp. It offered Hodges a chance to reclaim a spot with the Spartans. He had been ruled academically ineligible a few weeks into his sophomore season but raised his grades enough to return to the team.

Once there, however, a freak injury nearly ended any hope of playing high school basketball.

During a game against Granger, Hodges tipped the ball on a sideline play. While he was in the air, he was accidentally kicked in the leg by a Lancer player. Hodges came crashing down on the court. The prognosis looked grim. Hodges had broken both the tibia and fibula in his left leg.

"I was shocked that it happened because I never thought I would break a bone," he said. "But it happened and there was nothing I could do about it."

As far as breaks go, this was about as bad as Hodges could have received. His leg required surgery to insert a steel rod. Afterward, several weeks of painful rehabilitation lay ahead. Basketball appeared to be a thing of the past.

"My first thought was that I was done playing, because I didn't know how bad it was," Hodges said.

Still, Hodges was determined to create his own fate in the matter. He worked hard in physical therapy, and both his family and the Murray coaching staff supported his comeback efforts.

A month before his junior season, Hodges had recovered enough to get medical clearance to play. But he still felt some trepidation when he initially returned to the court.

"I was scared about jumping, going after rebounds and things like that," Hodges said. "But after I got hit the first time in my leg, I was fine."

Hodges has since embraced a hustling defensive-oriented style of play as a senior. And, after all he's been through in recent seasons, he said it feels good to be a part of a Murray team which has been among the better teams in Region 6 so far.

His teammates were not surprised by his determination to return to the court and contribute to the Spartans' success.

"Basketball is really important to him," Lloyd said. "I didn't think he was going to let much get in the way of that."

E-mail: jcoon@desnews.com