Throughout the course of the off-season I will release my season’s preview for each Power 5 team. I will start out west with the PAC-12 teams and the work my way east. These previews will be very simple but a nice guide for the casual college basketball fans to become aware of some of the new faces and up and coming teams for the 2017-2018 season.
Season Preview: Utah Utes
Last Season: 20-12, NIT
Key Losses: Kyle Kuzma, Devon Daniels, Jojo Zamora, Lorenzo Bonam, Gabe Bealer
Key Additions: Justin Bibbins, Christian Popoola, Branden Carlson, Donnie Tillman, Jaxon Brenchley
Larry Krystkowiak and the Utah Utes struggled last season after having a number of successful seasons. Kyle Kuzma stepped into the spotlight and didn’t disappoint with 16 points and 9 rebounds per game but he didn’t have much support. The Utes struggled to get big wins against high quality teams leaving their resume very dull and pushing them to the NIT.
This season may have a similar script as Larry Krystkowiak has failed to replenish his stock of quality players and international finds. Graduate transfer Justin Bibbins will look to replace Kuzma’s scoring as he averaged 16 points a game last season at Long Beach State. 4-star freshman Branden Carlson will look to add to a front court heavy team. Bibbins is only 5’8 but he can add shooting and ball handling that Utah lacked last season. David Collette and Jayce Johnson will look to increase their roles after showing much promise last year. Collette will need to be the senior leader this season to push the Utes over the top in tightly contested PAC-12 games.
Larry K is a phenomenal coach and the development of the program’s younger players will be crucial to their success. Utah will be a bubble team again this season but if they can pull of some upsets on their home court it may push them into the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Justin Bibbins
SG: Sederick Barefield
SF: Devon Daniels
PF: David Collette
C: Jayce Johnson