#89 Utah Men's Basketball 2021-2022 Preview

Utah Utes
2021-2022 Overall Rank: #89
Conference Rank: #9 Pac-12
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Utah failed to reach the NCAA Tournament for the fifth consecutive year, leading to the dismissal of Larry Krystkowiak after his tenth season with the program. His replacement is Craig Smith who spent the last three seasons at Utah State. Smith led the Aggies to two NCAA Tournaments, and it would have been three if the 2020 season hadn’t ended abruptly. Utah will enter this season minus four starters from last year and with just two players returning who averaged above two points per game. Smith has brought in seven transfers as replacements, so this will be a completely revamped Utah team in 2021-22.

2020-21 Record: 12-13, 8-11
2020-21 Postseason: None
Coach: Craig Smith
Coach Record: 0-0 at Utah, 225-108 overall
Key Departed Players:
Timmy Allen, Forward, 17.2 ppg
Alfonso Plummer, Guard, 13.6 ppg
Mikael Jantunen, Forward, 8.9 ppg
Pelle Larsson, Guard, 8.2 ppg
Ian Martinez, Guard, 5.2 ppg
Rylan Jones, Guard, 4.4 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Branden Carlson, Junior, Center, 9.4 ppg
Riley Battin, Senior, Forward, 6.6 ppg
Lahat Thioune, Junior, Center, 1.4 ppg
Jaxon Brenchley, Junior, Guard, 0.5 ppg
Key New Players:
Marco Anthony, Senior, Guard, Transfer from Utah State
Both Gach, Senior, Guard, Transfer from Minnesota
Bostyn Holt, Junior, Forward, Transfer from Junior College
David Jenkins, Senior, Guard, Transfer from UNLV
Gabe Madsen, Sophomore, Guard, Transfer from Cincinnati
Dusan Mahorcic, Senior, Forward, Transfer from Illinois State
Lazar Stefanovic, Freshman, Guard
Rollie Worster, Sophomore, Guard, Transfer from Utah State
Utah returns just four rotation players from last season and only one starter. Branden Carlson is a seven-footer who started 21 games as a sophomore and averaged 9.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. His return will at least give the Utes some defensive stability from last season. Riley Battin is the only other returner who averaged more than two points per game. Battin has started 58 games in his career, though he only started nine last season and averaged 6.6 points for the year. Lahat Thioune and Jaxon Brenchley both return as juniors who saw limited action last season. Utah’s success this year will hinge on the production of their seven transfers. Two of them followed Craig Smith from Utah State. Marco Anthony started his career at Virginia where he rarely saw action, so he transferred to Utah State where he started all 28 games last season. Anthony averaged 10.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game under Smith. Rollie Worster started 25 of 26 games as a freshman at Utah State last year, averaging 9.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Though they are new to Utah, their familiarity under Smith will be very helpful this season. Both Gach is a new member for this season, though he did start his career at Utah. Gach started 39 games in two seasons with the Utes before playing at Minnesota last season where he averaged 6.8 points. David Jenkins may be the most talented of the group. Jenkins played two seasons at South Dakota State and one season at UNLV and averaged double-digit points each season. Jenkins is a career 41.7% shooter from three and was an all-conference member as a sophomore and junior. Dusan Mahorcic started his career in junior college before spending last season at Illinois State where he averaged 9.9 points and 7.2 rebounds. Rounding out the roster is Bostyn Holt; a junior college transfer, Gabe Madsen; a transfer from Cincinnati who played in just two games, and Lazar Stefanovic; a freshman who played for Serbia in the FIBA U19 World Championships. There are a lot of new pieces for Craig Smith to work with and the range of outcomes for Utah is about as wide as any team in the country.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 72.1 (146th in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 69.8 (161, 10)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.9 (45, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 44.8 (234, 9)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.9 (210, 8)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.5 (92, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 79.2 (7, 2)
Rebound Margin: -2.7 (269, 10)
Assists Per Game: 15.1 (54, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.6 (122, 8)