A couple sources close to the Lone Peak High basketball program in Alpine, Utah, have confirmed that former Knights star Josh Sharp is transferring from Utah to BYU when he returns home later this month from his LDS Church mission in Texas.
The 6-foot-7 Sharp has apparently already enrolled in summer block courses at BYU, a source told my colleague at the Tribune, Bill Oram.
Sharp's journey to BYU is an interesting one, and will surely roil some blood at Utah, after Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak sent out a strongly worded news release last week insinuating that Utah's rivals were violating an "unwritten" rule that schools cannot recruit players who are on missions.
BYU coaches cannot comment, per NCAA rules, on prospects until they have officially signed. Hence, we don't know yet whether or not they "recruited" Sharp while he was on his mission, or if Sharp first contacted them.
Sharp, of course, is still on his mission and won't be able to talk about it until he returns. Phone calls to his home have not been returned.
One of the Lone Peak sources said Sharp has been wavering about returning to Utah since the school fired coach Jim Boylen in March. Boylen recruited Sharp off a Lone Peak team that included four other Division I-bound players (BYU's Tyler Haws, Fresno State's Bracken Funk, Iowa State/LSU's Justin Hamilton and BYU's Nate Austin), but did not have a scholarship available at the time.
Sharp committed to walk on at Utah his first year with the promise that he would receive a scholarship when one became available, or when he returned from his mission. However, at the end of his senior year at Lone Peak, Utes coaches gave him a scholarship that was freed up when Australian Stephen Weigh left the program. Sharp redshirted the 2008-09 season at Utah before leaving on his mission.
Sharp and his family were apparently turned off by Krystkowiak last month when the new Utes coach didn't contact him or his family while recruiting at a nearby high school, American Fork, just a few miles away from their home. At that point, Sharp decided to transfer to either BYU or Utah State.
The Aggies didn't have a scholarship available. The Cougars have an open scholarship, for at least one year, anyway, because center James Anderson is not returning for his final year of eligibility.
Because he has spent the last two years away from basketball, Sharp is not bound by NCAA rules regarding transfers and will be immediately eligible to play for the Cougars.
Perhaps anticipating Sharp's desire to leave his program, new Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak released a statement last week saying that Utah was forced to allow other schools to contact Sharp "due to a technicality with his National Letter of Intent."
Sharp signed an NLI with Utah in 2007 and joined the program in 2008 before leaving on his mission in 2009, but the NLI was not accompanied with a signed financial aid agreement as needed to make it a binding contract. Hence, the "loophole" that Krystkowiak referenced.
He becomes the eighth Ute to leave the program since Boylen as fired in March.
"We want Josh to be a part of our program and are disappointed that rival schools can take advantage of a loophole in the system should they choose," Krystkowiak said in the statement last week. "Josh attended classes here for a year, signed an NLI and financial aid agreement [but not simultaneously], and we want him to continue his education and playing career here. It is my understanding that there is an unwritten rule that players cannot be recruited by other schools while they are serving missions. To do so is not only inappropriate, but it creates an atmosphere of ill will."
Sharp averaged 12 points a game his senior season at Lone Peak. An assistant coach who was at Utah in 2008-09 but who is no longer there once told me that it was a mistake to redshirt Sharp that year because he was as good or better that several players who logged significant minutes.
He said Boylen was expecting Sharp to have a long and successful career as a Ute when Sharp returned from his mission.