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Injury hurts Jensen’s chances

Former Ute may have to settle for playing in Europe

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TAYLORSVILLE — Sporting a Rockets' warmup T-shirt, Alex Jensen sat at the end of the Houston bench — one chair away from the water cooler — during the first Rocky Mountain Revue game Thursday afternoon.

It's the same exact spot the former University of Utah star has occupied throughout the summer-league action at the Salt Lake Community College the past week.

Realistically, it's as close as Jensen is going to get to being on an NBA team for at least the next year.

"At least I'll have an excuse now," joked Jensen.

He even has a doctor's note to go with his excuse.

Jensen hasn't been able to participate in the Revue due to a nagging high ankle sprain, which originally happened during a pro-am game a more than a month ago in Salt Lake. He was on a team with Jimmy Soto and Ben Caton, playing a Bryon Russell-led squad, when he suffered the untimely injury.

After being invited to be part of the Rockets' summer team by coach Rudy Tomjanovich a month later, Jensen reinjured himself on the first day of practices for the Revue in Houston last week.

"He kinda pushed it a little (trying to play before completely healing)," said Houston trainer Keith Jones. "The pain's gone, but there's still swelling there. He's a couple of weeks away from being fully recovered."

"It's just slow," added Jensen. "Those take a long time to heal. I have to retrain all the muscles and ligaments. That's the hard part."

Well, really, the hardest part is that he's had to sit and cheer on his new teammates from the sidelines instead of showing what he can do on the court. This is, of course, make-or-break time for many wannabe NBA players, so it's one missed opportunity for him.

"It's kind of a big month to show what you have to offer. I want to be out there real bad. I'd say it's frustrating. You start thinking 'What if?' " he said. "I'd feel a lot better about myself if I played and didn't make it. At least that way I could say I tried."

Plan B — actually Plan C since he had hoped to get drafted as part of Plan A — is to go and get his feet wet on the other side of the ocean. He said European teams from leagues in Turkey, Croatia and Greece have already made him offers.

If he does choose to play in Europe, he'd have to sign by next month. And in doing so, he'll sign away a potential opportunity to rejoin an NBA team in training camp in October.

"More than likely now I'll probably end up playing in Europe for a year and then maybe come back and try this again next year," he said. "But it's all up in the air. (Making the NBA) is kind of a longshot, but you can't count anything out."

REVUE NOTES: The Utah Jazz did not play on Thursday, but they got some good news. The results of forward Scott Padgett's MRI exam on his left knee were negative. He even may be available to play on Saturday, when the Jazz take on Denver in the final Revue game at 2 p.m. in the Delta Center. Padgett hurt his knee Tuesday and didn't play Wednesday . . . In Thursday's Revue action, Houston downed Cleveland 84-75 as Kenny Thomas, Dan Langhi and Moochie Norris tallied 16 points apiece. Former Ute Andre Miller didn't play for the Cavs as he was helping Keith Van Horn at a basketball camp. In the second game, James Posey sparked Denver to a 77-75 victory over Toronto with 25 points. Also, Dallas got another great outing from 7-foot German center Dirk Nowitzki. He had 26 points and 12 boards in the Mavs' 84-75 win. In the late game, Khalid El-Amin poured in 23 points to lift Chicago over Vancouver, 91-73.

E-MAIL: jody@desnews.com