- Jeff Goodman, ESPN Insider
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New Mexico freshman guard Cullen Neal expects to be ready for the official start of practice in late September despite undergoing an emergency appendectomy last week while on the Lobos' trip to Australia.
"The doctors said recovery is about four to six weeks," said Neal, the son of new New Mexico coach Craig Neal. "I need to get my energy back and put weight back on."
Neal, who estimates he lost about 15 pounds after surgery, said he began experiencing stomach pains on the flight to Australia, then checked into a local hospital hours after arriving. He spent 11 nights in the hospital following surgery.
"I feel all right," Neal told ESPN.com while on a layover in Los Angeles on Friday. "I just want to get home."
The 6-foot-4 Neal was a heralded recruit who initially signed with Saint Mary's but was released from his letter of intent by Gaels head coach Randy Bennett after his father was elevated to the head spot at UNM following the departure of Steve Alford to UCLA.
Neal likely will assume a reserve role with the Lobos this season with the program bringing back veteran guards Kendall Williams and Hugh Greenwood. New Mexico, which went 29-6 last season, also returns front-line starters Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow.
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