Jakob Poeltl had an outstanding year! He was named second-team All-American and Pacific-12 Conference Player of the Year; ranked No. 2 in the Pac-12 in scoring with 17.2 points per game; No. 4 in rebounds with 9.1 per game; and No. 1 in shooting percentage at 64.6. He was a perfect example of why many college players should return for their sophomore year, bucking the trend of playing just one season. Poeltl was honored at the end of the season as the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year, and the National Association of Basketball Coaches’ Pete Newell Big Man of the Year. He was one of the truly elite big men in the country, and he just continues to get better. Utah wouldn’t have had a chance of being as successful without Poeltl leading the team. He will be entering the NBA as a probable lottery pick, and hopes to work hard to be an NBA star.
Utah guard Brandon Taylor’s senior year was a great explanation point on his years as a Ute. Averaging 9.6 points, and team-highs of 3.9 assists and 1.5 steals, he was named Pac-12 All-Academic Team for his second strait year maintaining a 3.40 grade-point average as a senior psychology major. He also earned a spot on the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team and Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 honors. Taylor was always on the court leading his team and was the goto look when a clutch shot was needed. His signature crossover reminded us of a young Kemba Walker or Allen Iverson providing space and consistently hitting the big shots. Taylor put the Arizona game out of reach this year using his deadly crossover to a devastating three pointer, putting the Ute’s up five. This game represented Brandon Taylor quite well.
Lorenzo Bonam was a great addition to the Utes this past season. His gazelle-like speed, his slippery drives, his hang-time through the air, and every aspect of his game is unique to others, especially his left handed power. Bonam ended the season with an average of 10.2 PPG, along with 3.3 RPG and 3 APG. His consistency and fourth quarter effort helped the Utes to a marvelous season, none better exhibited than when he hit that high arcing shot over 6-foot-10 Josh Scott to beat Colorado.
Jordan Loveridge has been a key element to Utah’s starting 5. Loveridge and Jakob Poeltl have been a terrific inside-outside big man duo for the Runnin’ Utes. The 22-year-old averaged 11.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game for his fourth season at Utah. He transformed himself from a power forward to one of the Pac-12’s best outside shooters,
and Loveridge’s move to the wing certainly helped the Utes. The forward shot better than 40 percent from 3-point territory ranking him second in the conference in 3-pointers made, and third in 3-point percentage. “Every team needs guys to knock down open shots,” he said, “and I think I can do that.” Loveridge has been a Utah kid his whole life, going from West Jordan High School, where he was named the Gatorade Player of the Year, to the University of Utah, and now getting the chance to workout for his hometown team the Utah Jazz.
Kyle Kuzma had a very successful season with the Runnin’ Utes. Along with Jakob Poeltl these two were the owners of the board. Averaging 5.7 RPG, as well as 10.8 PPG, Kuzma gave his offense numerous second chances and was a player that could capitalize well off missed shots. The growth between his freshman and sophomore season is remarkable, Kuzma has advanced from a little-used role player to a starter and plans to keep growing. Game announcers have taken to calling the 6-foot-9 Ute “the Microwave,” thanks to his ability to heat up quick.
Larry Krystowiak led the Ute’s to a 27-9 record season, along with a #3 seed and second round run in the March Madness Tournament. You could say he’s had a very successful season. Bringing players on, like Lorenzo Bonam, has set the team up with quick, agile players along with a great group of big men to dominate the paint. Coach Krystowiak has truly built a very evenly spread team, with players who both excel in listening and leading. Krystkowiak will have a very tall order this coming year to replace three of the Utes starting five, including guard Dakarai Tucker. Larry Krystowiak’s will be entering his 7th season and is looking to continue to improve.