New Runnin’ Utes point guard Rollie Worster dishes out his reasons for leaving Utah State
After a highly successful first college basketball season in Logan, Worster followed coach Craig Smith to the University of Utah. Here’s why.
Nor is the former Aggie going to wear No. 24 on his jersey, because that number belonged to Andre Miller and was retired in February 2000. Worster will wear No. 25, a number worn by his uncle, former Weber State standout Randy Worster, who was named a member of WSU’s 50th anniversary team in 2013.
“Yeah, obviously this is a great place, and so is Utah State. I have nothing bad to say about Utah State from my time there. It is all good things. But I went there because of the coaching staff, from the weight trainers to the actual basketball staff, and most of them are here at the U. now, so I (joined) them.” — Rollie Worster
Worster’s father, Scott, wore No. 24 for a season at Weber State after graduating from Ogden’s Ben Lomond High, which is why Rollie chose that number in high school and at USU.
So the jersey color and number will be different, but the Missoula, Montana, native promises to bring the same game that made him a fan favorite in Logan to Salt Lake City, and that’s probably what is most important to Ute fans who have witnessed what amounted to a player swap at the point guard position on The Hill.
Worster is now at Utah, while former Utes point guard Rylan Jones is at Utah State.
“Crazy, how it worked out,” Worster told the Deseret News last week in a one-on-one telephone interview. “Everything happened so fast. But I’m here now and I am incredibly excited.”
Worster, a 6-foot-3 sophomore guard, said he is “clean shaven” now and plans to have that “new look” the entire season.
“I kinda got sick of it, to be honest,” Worster said of the beard “It was a little heavy, on my face. It looked a little scruffy so I thought I would clean up a little bit.”
The new look is fitting for Utah’s new de facto starting point guard, with part-time point guard Pelle Larsson also leaving Utah’s program after Larry Krystkowiak was fired and replaced by USU’s Craig Smith.
Speaking of Smith, he and some staff members that accompanied him from Logan are “pretty much” the reason Worster is now at Utah, Worster said.
“Yeah, obviously this is a great place, and so is Utah State,” he said. “I have nothing bad to say about Utah State from my time there. It is all good things. But I went there because of the coaching staff, from the weight trainers to the actual basketball staff, and most of them are here at the U. now, so I (joined) them.”
In a school news release, Smith said Worster will be a “perfect fit” for the Utes. “Our staff has a tremendous feel for what Rollie will bring to our program,” Smith said. “He has great versatility and has the mentality to play any position.”
Smith was hired by Utah on March 27 and almost immediately began bringing USU assistant Eric Peterson and other Aggie staffers with him to SLC. Worster entered the transfer portal on April 8 and announced he was transferring to Utah on April 15.
“He has a level of toughness on both ends of the floor and is a winner in every way,” Smith said. “Utah fans are going to love watching him compete.”
Worster said 12 to 15 schools contacted him when he entered the portal, including Minnesota, Stanford, Oregon State, TCU “and some bigger name schools as well” and he was “appreciative that they watched my games and thought I could play at this level, but ultimately this is where I wanted to be, and I am just super excited for this season.”
Not long after he entered the portal, Worster says he got the call he wanted, the one from Smith.
“I (entered the portal) because I wanted to explore my options,” he said. “Them wanting me to come here just showed how much they believed in me. It was like when they first recruited me. I just have a lot of respect for them and how they run things.”
Worster averaged 9.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists for the Aggies while starting in 25 of 26 games he appeared in. A lower leg injury sidelined him for a few games in February.
He acknowledges that his departure was difficult on Aggie fans, as was the departure of his roommate, graduate-transfer Marco Anthony, from Logan to the University of Utah.
“I will never forget the excitement that the fans brought (at USU),” he said. “Games at the Spectrum were still loud for how limited (attendance) was. They still got that place rocking and loud. It was just really cool being there and the community was really supportive of the program. I will miss that.”
Worster and Anthony moved to SLC in early June, stayed roommates, and began participating in drills and practices a few weeks ago.
“I know what to expect because most of the coaches moved down that I already know, including our weights coach, Logan Ogden, coach O,” he said. “So it was an easy transition for me. It is a really high-energy group. Everybody brings it every day.”
Speak to Worster for just 15 minutes, and it becomes apparent that his family means a lot to him. His sister, Shannon, is also an outstanding basketball player, also wore No. 25, and was part of an NAIA Division I national championship team at Montana Western, in Dillon.
“We are a basketball family,” said Worster, who was also a fantastic football player at Missoula’s Hellgate High and received college scholarship offers in that sport. An all-state quarterback, Worster could reportedly throw a football 70 yards.
His real name is Herman Rolland Worster II; he was named after his grandfather, “which is a cool name to inherit. He went by Rollie, so that is the reason I do, too.”
As for his role with the Utes, Worster said he is primarily a point guard but can play combo guard or even the wing if that’s what is asked of him. Former Runnin’ Ute Both Gach, returning to the program after playing last year at Minnesota, is similar in that he can run the point or play shooting guard, but is a bit taller at 6-foot-6.
“My role is whatever the coaches see in me,” Worster said. “I just go out, play my game, play as hard as I can, and whatever the coaches decide is the end decision, or factor. I am willing to do anything, but primarily I play the point position.”
This time, without any facial hair.