Utah men’s basketball coach Craig Smith is entering his second season at the helm and looking to improve on an 11-20 record in 2021-22.
It’s been a busy offseason what with players entering the transfer portal and the Utes snagging talent out of the transfer portal. Among the newcomers are Cincinnati transfer guard Mike Saunders, Wisconsin transfer forward Ben Carlson and BYU transfer forward Gavin Baxter. And there are prep stars Keba Keita and Wilguens Exacte Jr.
They complement a group of returning players like All-Pac-12 performer Branden Carlson and Marco Anthony. Rollie Worster, Lazar Stefanovic, Gabe Madsen, Jaxon Brenchley and Eli Ballstaedt (a walk-on) have also said they are coming back.
“We have some continuity coming back, some guys who played a lot of minutes for us last year,” Smith said. “I still believe in my core, and in my heart, that we can build a program here, sustained for longevity, although that certainly is getting harder and harder in a lot of respects. So you just gotta adapt and adjust.”
How long will it take Utah to compete for a Pac-12 championship?
“Every year our expectation is to make the NCAA Tournament, and that’s our goal,” Smith said about a possible time frame for success. “That is what we strive to do, and then win when we get there.”
Meanwhile, check out Doug Robinson’s look at Utah football success in the NFL draft in the 2000s.
13.6: Average points per game for Utah’s leading scorer last season, Branden Carlson.
7.1: Average rebounds per game for Utah’s leading rebounder last season, Marco Anthony.
2.7: Average assists per game for transfer Mike Saunders Jr., last year at Cincinnati.
From the archives
- He’s the Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year. What’s next for Junior Tafuna? (Deseret News)
- UCLA gymnastics has hired its new head coach (Deseret News)
- Could Utah’s Cam Rising be a first-round NFL draft pick next year? (Deseret News)
- ‘We care about their GPA as well as their batting average’: Utah softball honors four players on senior day (Deseret News)
- Next men up? How Utes will fill void left by Devin Lloyd and Nephi Sewell (Deseret News)
- ‘The total package’: Runnin’ Utes coach Craig Smith reveals why he hired Chris Burgess away from BYU (Deseret News)
- Utah coaches optimistic about what wide receivers can do this fall. Here’s why (Deseret News)
- List of afterthoughts who made it big in the NFL is as long as it is distinguished (Deseret News)
- Who is new Runnin’ Ute Keba Keita and how is Utah’s 2022-23 roster shaping up? (Deseret News)
Comments from Deseret News readers
I am expecting Utah to be a much improved team this year. With the additions of coach Burgess from BYU, big man Baxter, also from BYU, and some of the rest of the players, plus having a year under their belts with the returning players, it seems inevitable that the Utes will be better (at least I hope so).
— water rocket
First round NFL QBs are almost always guys who finish with high total QBR, a calculation of total QB contribution to offensive production. (Cam) Rising was #6 in 2021. If he finishes that high or higher in 2022, he’s a virtual lock as a first rounder. One aspect of his game that’s still unproven and could help his rating a bunch is the deep backside corner route — the hardest and lowest percentage completion throw in football. That’s also a critical throw at the NFL combine.
May 13 | 6 p.m. | Baseball | vs. Stanford | @Salt Lake City | Utah Livestream
May 13 | 7 p.m. | Softball | vs. Oregon State | @Corvallis, Oregon
May 14 | 1 p.m. | Softball | vs. Oregon State | @Corvallis, Oregon
May 14 | 2 p.m. | Baseball | vs. Stanford | @Salt Lake City | Utah Livestream
May 15 | 1 p.m. | Baseball | vs. Stanford | @Salt Lake City | Utah Livestream
May 17 | 6 p.m. | Baseball | vs. BYU | @Provo