football

Krystkowiak has Utah headed in right direction

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When Larry Krystkowiak accepted the Utah job in April 2011, he had to know that building the Utes program as it entered the Pac-12 wouldn't be easy.
And so far it hasn't been easy. The Utes have won just eight conference games during the Krystkowiak era. But the signs that the program is turning around are there, especially on the recruiting trail, where he and his staff have started to make noise.
In the 2012 class, Utah kept Rivals150 forward Jordan Loveridge home. Then in 2013 it scored a potential steal in junior college wing Delon Wright.
Now, the 2014 recruiting class is coming together nicely.
It got started with a commitment from in-state star Brekkott Chapman. The Utes fended off high-major programs from across the country to land the four-star prospect.
Chapman is the type of prospect a program hopes helps in many ways. Obviously, the 6-foot-8 southpaw will be expected to make an immediate impact on the court. He can play around the rim, the offense can be run through him in the high post, and he's a versatile scorer.
At the same time, a staff always hopes that landing a player the caliber of Chapman attracts other talent. So far, things have worked out that way.
Over the weekend, three-star prospects Kyle Kuzma and Isaiah Wright gave verbal commitments after visits to Salt Lake City. Neither player is ranked in the 2014 Rivals150, but that shouldn't matter because both are late bloomers who, added paired to Chapman, form a solid core to build around.
A native of Michigan who is prepping at Philadelphia (Pa.) Rise Academy, Kuzma has grown to about 6-foot-8 and came on strong throughout the summer. A slender athlete, Kuzma is fluid and comfortable on the perimeter. He just needs a little more strength and consistency before he becomes a productive Pac-12 player.
In Wright, Utah found an impressive playmaker. A product of Boise (Idaho) Borah who played with Idaho-based Hoop Dreams in the summer, Wright could end up being a major steal for Utah. Were Wright from, say, Los Angeles or Chicago, he probably would have been much more well known and heavily recruited.
He gets into the lane well, and he has tremendous vision and a sturdy frame. If he can develop his jumper, Wright could be a thorn in the side of Pac-12 opponents for years to come.
Bottom line, there is plenty of work left to do in Salt Lake City, and these recruits have to pan out. However, a forward thinker has to be encouraged by what Krystkowiak and his staff have been doing on the recruiting trail, and if it translates onto the floor the Utes should find themselves back in the NCAA tournament sooner than later.
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