Pac-12 Burning Questions: How Does Utah Replace Its Entire Roster?

Posted by Adam Butler on November 7th, 2016

Replacing Jakob Poeltl, of course, is the biggest challenge facing Utah, but such would be the case for any team that loses a conference Player of the Year. We can’t dwell on that. What we can turn our attention to is the team’s high roster turnover and that the Utes lost six scholarship players following a second place Pac-12 finish. That’s a lot even in today’s transfer-heavy climate. Of course, the roster turnover is mixed with the natural losses of Brandon Taylor and Jordan Loveridge – two veterans who were with the program throughout its recent return to relevance. As a result, head coach Larry Krystkowiak finds himself with one of the more unique coaching challenges in the conference this season.

Larry Krystkowiak And The Utes Got To Celebrate On BYU's Home Floor Last Season (Hugh Carey, Deseret News)

Larry Krystkowiak has built a big-time program in Utah. (Hugh Carey, Deseret News)

It’s important to note that he hasn’t left himself with absolutely nothing. The Utes have won more than 21 games in each of the last three years — to be clear, this is a program and not just a team. Lorenzo Bonam and Kyle Kuzma are two fine Pac-12 returnees, the latter of which CBSSports.com‘s Matt Norlander thinks could be an NBA Draft pick (scroll to the Utes at #73). Those veterans (the only ones left?) will be supplemented by a top-100 recruit in Jayce Johnson, who actually joined the Utes in the middle of last season. Considering that Johnson had half a year to compete in practice with Poeltl and Krystkowiak’s proven ability to develop bigs, it would be fair to place relatively high expectations on Johnson.

And speaking of joining the program at mid-year, David Collette will do just that after enrolling at Utah from Utah State amid some controversy last January. One final name to note as we navigate this brand new roster is SMU transfer Sedrick Barefield. He’s a shifty guard who, if nothing else, provides depth to a team full of new faces. In summary, when you consider Krystkowiak has done this before and done so with success, we can’t feel terribly unsettled about this program. Utah is coming off of two years of fantastic success, aided in carrying the conference torch, and made a $36 million investment in the program. So while roster turnover is constant in the sport, the Utes are beginning to look like the kind of program (perhaps the highest compliment you can make of a school) that reloads rather than rebuilds (translation: they’re built).

Adam Butler (27 Posts)


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