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Utah basketball: Like father, like son for Craig and Beau Rydalch

SALT LAKE CITY — When Beau Rydalch was named one of Utah’s team captains this season, he quickly made a call to his father, Craig. The family legacy had just climbed to a new level.

“It was pretty cool. The moment I found out, that’s immediately where my mind went: ‘Just like dad,'” Beau recalled. “I called him and he was pretty proud, pretty happy. He said: ‘Well, you earned it.'”

Beau has now followed in his father’s footsteps as a player and as a captain for the Utes. Craig Rydalch held a similar position — twice, in fact — during his playing days from 1989-92 under coach Rick Majerus. Beau’s uncle, Mark Rydalch, was also a team captain during his 1992-96 tenure with the team

Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said they’re all cut from the same cloth.

“It’s pretty neat, man,” Krystkowiak said. “I remember when we first met Craig, and Beau was on a mission, and talking about getting him on the team. I was excited about it without having met Beau. And it’s a no-brainer at this point.”

Krystkowiak is fond of Beau. He joined the Utes as a preferred walk-on in 2016-17 after returning from a mission in Ecuador for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The 6-foot-6 guard, who was a three-time all-state honoree at South Summit High, hasn’t seen a lot of action for the Utes. Injuries haven taken a toll, limiting him to just 80 minutes of playing time over 25 games the past three seasons. He’s scored 18 points in his career.

Even so, Beau was chosen to be a team captain — sharing duties this year with Sedrick Barefield and Parker Van Dyke.

Krystkowiak acknowledged that Beau is a rare dude.

“He stands for everything that we talk about. He provides a heck of a lot of leadership and enthusiasm,” Krystkowiak said. “He’s got a big heart and he just bleeds Utah basketball. The family part of it makes it a little more special.”

In the end, though, Krystkowiak can relate to what Beau is going through physically. There’s a time when your brain and heart want to keep playing ball, he explained, but your body kind of shuts down.

“So it’s sad that way. But he’s great to have on our team,” Krystkowiak said. “He provides a lot of things and I think he fits the definition of a captain.”

Although Beau has a season of eligibility remaining, this will be his final campaign. He’ll be honored alongside Barefield, Van Dyke and Novak Topalovic on Senior Night after Saturday’s game against UCLA in the Huntsman Center.

Beau is graduating a year early and that factored into his decision. However, his health was the primary variable.

“I was hoping and preparing that I could go without injury this year. But ... I have back issues and my back just couldn’t hold up,” Beau said. “So I just decided rather than try to suffer through another year, I’m graduating and I might as well step away and move on.”

The journey, though, has been rewarding for the Rydalch family. Craig is proud that Beau worked his way onto the team and into a leadership role.

“It has been a lot of fun. It was my dream and it was always his dream to be on the basketball team,” Craig said. “It was a great honor that coach Krystkowiak gave him to be a captain.”

Craig added that it speaks to Beau’s hard work and leadership, as well as what his teammates and coaches think of him.

“I’m very proud of him. He’s earned every bit of it and it’s kind of fun to sit back (as parents) to see him succeed,” Craig said. “He’s a good kid and that’s the most important thing.”

Beau hasn’t surprised his dad. Craig always knew his son would play for the Utes, even though some smaller schools showed interest during the recruiting process.

After studying film of Rydalch, Utah associate head coach Tommy Connor invited Beau and Craig to meet with the staff. A preferred walk-on offer was made.

“He didn’t hesitate one minute to accept it and he’s had a great attitude going through,” Craig said. “Even to just to be the cheerleader and be on the team and to be able to help the program, it shows kind of how unselfish he is and kind of what our family feels as a whole about the program. We love this program and would do anything.”

Craig added that Beau’s teammates know he’s genuine.

“He’s over there not only cheering them on, but he’s also in a lot of ways coaching and helping them out,” Craig said. “He’s very cerebral as far as his game.”

As a team leader, Beau helps the younger players out with the mental aspects of the game.

“It’s been an overall good experience for him,” Craig said.

Beau considers it an honor to be a team captain, especially since the players voted on the choice.

“I kind of pride myself on being close to everybody,” Beau said. “Sedrick is my guy, but other than that I feel like I have a good relationship with every one of my teammates. I don’t have issues with any of them and we hang out all on different occasions.”

Beau goes with different groups and said it’s been fun. He prides himself a lot on the coaching side of things, too. His experience in the program has been valuable as he’s able to offer insight, knowing what the team is doing all the time. Guys seek his input.

Beau also had the added advantage of a father who learned a lot while playing for a demanding coach like Majerus. How Craig responded and worked as a player is something he passed on to Beau, instilling a “get down and get dirty” approach.

“That’s how he taught me since I was a kid, and I pride myself on that. I think Majerus’ teaching of my dad not only taught him but it’s trickled down through generations,” Beau said. “Kind of the mindset, the love for the program, and all those things come into play.”

Craig Rydalch hopes the family footsteps might continue again in about 15 years or so when the next one comes along. He has a 4-year-old grandson (Beau’s nephew), Judson, that can pretty much sing “Utah Man” already, the elder Rydalch said.

Beau noted it would be fun to be in his father’s position and watch another generation play basketball at Utah.

“It would be completely awesome if one of my kids chooses to follow the route and love the game the same way we have,” Beau said. “It would be super cool to experience.”

Beau added that the relationship with his father has evolved. They’re close.

“Any day I have questions, any day I’m frustrated or something good happens, he’s the first one to get the call,” Beau said. “So it’s pretty cool.”

The father-son bond also includes continued attendance in the Huntsman Center. It’s a family tradition, after all.

“Even though I’ll be done playing we’ll still be coming to games together — probably for the rest of our lives,” Beau said. “And the next generation coming through will, too.”

USC (15-14, 8-8) at Utah (15-13, 9-7)

  • Huntsman Center
  • Thursday, 8 p.m.
  • TV: FS1
  • Radio: ESPN 700AM