Duke freshman center Elton Brand, who has missed six weeks with a broken foot, has received medical clearance to play and will dress for the Blue Devils' game Sunday with No. 12 UCLA.
The 6-foot-8, 260-pound Brand was Duke's leading scorer and rebounder before breaking the fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot in practice Dec. 27.
The Blue Devils have won 13 of 14 games since Brand's injury.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said a week ago that he didn't expect Brand to return this season. But one of Brand's surgeons said the forward recovered faster than expected.
"He will be suited up," Krzyzewski said Friday. "If the next two days in practice go well, he'll play (against UCLA)."
Brand, who joined the team in practice for the first time Friday, sounded ready.
"It seems normal - like I never left," he said.
Krzyzewski said he now must be careful not to upset the team's chemistry.
"Whenever you make a change, you have to be concerned," he said. "Is this all good or all bad? Usually it's never all good, although in this case it's worth trying to make the change."
The players were thrilled at the possibility of getting Brand back.
"The only thing he can do is help us. What he gives us is an inside presence," said senior point guard Steve Wojciechowski. "Elton was a great player. It's just an unbelievable feeling having him back."
© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved