LOGAN — By all accounts, Neemias Queta had a terrific summer of international play, leading his homeland Portugal with 14.3 points, 11 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game at the FIBA U-20 European Championships.
But the cost of his excellent summer may be grave.
Queta appeared to injure his left knee in the third quarter of the semifinals of the tournament, landing awkwardly while fighting for a rebound against Russia last Saturday.
He was helped off the court with a serious limp, and did not return to play during the game. He was present at Portugal’s next game, a win over the Czech Republic to clinch the B division championship.
But Queta did not play in the final game, sitting on the bench with a heavily-wrapped leg and using a cane to guide himself around the court. His absence was officially designated as a "coach's decision" on FIBA's official inactive list.
The ace bandage on his lower leg was consistent with a calf compression commonly used to control swelling or help heal a calf strain, according to a medical source who asked not to be identified because of health laws.
Utah State officials had yet to hear the extent of any injury to Queta, who was scheduled to undergo an MRI Monday, when contacted by KSL.com.
With the 6-foot-11 reigning Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, the Aggies are a Top 25 preseason team in 2019-20 — with some preseason projections picking them as high as the Top 15. The freshman averaged 11.8 points, 8.9 boards and 2.4 blocks per game a year ago en route to league freshman of the year honors, and pairing him with reigning Mountain West player of the year Sam Merrill gives the Aggies a similar one-two punch to defend their league title in Craig Smith’s second year as head coach.
The duo both passed on the NBA draft with the intention of returning to Utah State for another run at a Mountain West title and back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, something that hasn't been done since the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons.
If Queta is expected to miss any time, however, Utah State will rely on junior Klay Stall, a 6-foot-10 center from Chandler, Arizona who did not play last year due to a knee injury, as well as junior college transfer Kuba Karwowski, a 7-foot-2, 220-pound big from Warsaw, Poland by way of North Platte Community College, and Trevin Dorius, the 7-foot, 240-pound center who prepped at Wasatch High in Heber City.
Queta was diagnosed with a sprained left knee and kneecap dislocation, according to several Portuguese media outlets. Doctors ruled out the possibility of an anterior cruciate ligament injury and meniscal tear, but will continue to examine the injured knee in the coming days.