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Utah basketball program excited to sign one of the top recruiting classes in the country

Utah Utes head coach Larry Krystkowiak calls a play in Provo on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. BYU won 77-65. Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Earlier this year when talking about his young basketball team, Utah basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak said his current squad had more “stars” than ever before, referring to the system for ranking recruits out of high school or junior college.

Krystkowiak and the Utes have taken it to another level with their recruiting class for 2020-21.

Of the four recruits who were signed Wednesday on the first day of the early signing period, three are 4-star recruits and one is a 3-star recruit. Two of those players are listed among the top 100 players in the country. In fact, one publication, 247Sports lists Utah as having the No. 7 recruiting class in the country, behind only Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas Tech and Virginia. Scout puts the Utes at No. 9

The Utah signings Wednesday were no surprise, with all four having already committed verbally. The last was 6-foot-5 Swedish guard Pelle Larsson, who committed late last week.

The other signees include Ian Martinez, a 6-foot-3 guard from JSerra Catholic in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., who is ranked No. 58 in the nation by 247Sports, Caleb Lohner, a 6-foot-6 forward from Wasatch Academy, who is ranked No 72 by ESPN and Mason Falslev, a 6-foot-3 guard from Sky View High School.

”Beyond their basketball talents, they are terrific young men and each unique in their own way, but all possess those special ingredients to be successful – D.N.A., driven, caring and great students,” Krystkowiak said in a prepared statement about his signing class.

Martinez is the son of Utah assistant coach Henry Martinez, who joined the Ute staff the day after his son committed last spring. Ian Martinez was named all-Orange County, all-CIF Division I and all-Trinity League first team in his first year with JSerra. Krystkowiak said Martinez “has a great combination of athleticism, skill and IQ.”

Lohner is originally from the Dallas, Texas area and is the son of former BYU player Matt Lohner. When he committed in August, Lohner told the Deseret News his interest in Utah was sparked during the summer.

“I really clicked with the staff, the coaches and their vision for me is exactly what I needed and what I want,” he said “I’m so pumped up, it’ll be a blast.”

Larsson, who Krystkowiak said, “solidified himself as one of the premier guards in Europe” last summer, averaged 17.9 points and 6.3 rebounds with RIG Lulea last season, earning all-Swedish Basketettan third-team honors.

Falslev committed to Utah in July of 2018 before his junior year of high school, when he led Sky View to the 4A championship. He was a receiver for the Bobcats football team before switching to quarterback this year. He plans to serve a two-year mission after high school for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The current Ute team has 11 freshmen, four sophomores, one junior and one senior, Marc Reininger, who is currently out with an injury. Obviously the Utes will have to make some adjustments with their roster for 2020-21 to accommodate the incoming freshmen.

Ute women signings

Also on Wednesday, the Utah women’s basketball program added three players, including a pair of top-100 recruits, for 2020-21.

Coach Lynne Roberts announced the addition of Kennady McQueen, a 5-foot-10 guard from North Summit High School, who is ranked No. 60 by ESPN’s recruiting rankings, and Peyton McFarland, a 6-foot-4 forward from Boise, who is ranked No. 80. The third signee for the Utes is Donna Ntambue, a 5-foot-9 guard from Montreal, who is ranked among the top 15 recruits out of Canada.

“This is a great group,” Roberts said. “All three of these athletes are great kids. They bring in balance and will complement the great young core that we already have.”