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Utah’s Mikael Jantunen turning pro, will not return to Utes

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Utah Utes forward Mikael Jantunen shoots during a men’s basketball game against Colorado at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

New Utah head men’s basketball coach Craig Smith officially has one more roster spot to fill.

It has been rumored for quite sometime now that rising junior Mikael Jantunen would opt to leave Utah and begin his professional career, and on Monday afternoon, Jantunen announced on Twitter that such is in fact his plan.

The 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward from Helsinki, Finland started all 20 games he appeared in during the 2020-21 season and averaged 8.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists in 28 minutes per contest.

Smith acknowledged soon after getting hired that Jantunen had not been with the team during early offseason workouts.

Six scholarship players remain from last season’s roster — Pelle Larsson, Jaxon Brenchley, Rylan Jones, Riley Battin, Lahat Thioune and Branden Carlson. Three have been signed since Smith was hired — Gabe Madsen, David Jenkins Jr. and Rollie Worster. Ian Martinez, Jordan Kellier and Norbert Thelissen are former Utes in the transfer portal who have not yet committed to a new school, according to Verbal Commits.