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Matt Piper and Kyle Goon
Matt Piper and Kyle Goon cover University of Utah sports teams for The Salt Lake Tribune. Matt Piper is on twitter at @matthew_piper, Kyle Goon is on twitter at @kylegoon

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Hoops Snailbag: Signing day approaches

The idea earlier this week was for a mailbag addressing the state of Utah basketball in light of all the transfers and the impending signing period. That was delayed a few days — I was slow to do it — thus the "snailbag" was born. I've received some good questions on Twitter in the last few days, and will do my best to answer them here.

Obviously, things are constantly in motion for the Utes. Dijon Farr became the sixth, and likely last, member of the team to receive his release this week, leaving the Utes with some options for next season as the dramatic rebuilding process continues.The spring signing period begins next Wedesday.

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Here's a staggering figure: Last year the Utes had four contributing scholarship players return (Chris Hines, Jason Washburn, David Foster, Josh Watkins), but this season will only have two back (Washburn, Cedric Martin). Of course, three other scholarship players will return, but David Foster missed the entire season with injury, while Aaron Dotson and Glen Dean sat out due to NCAA transfer regulations.

On to your questions...

Who's in, who's out, who's mission, who's returning, eligibility of everyone? — @3golf6

Ah, yes, this does indeed seem a good place to start. Here's the rundown...

In: Washburn, Martin, Dean, Dotson, and David Foster are the familiar faces. Jordan Loveridge, Dallin Bachynski, Jeremy Olson, Justin Seymour and Josh Hearlihy have signed, while point guard Brandon Taylor orally committed this week.

Out: Chris Hines, Dijon Farr, Anthony Odunsi, Kareem Storey, George Matthews and Javon Dawson will all transfer out of the program.

Mission: The only one that falls in this camp is Blake Wilkinson. Wilkinson was originally a walk-on from Viewmont High School, but earned a scholarship mid-way through the season. That scholarship is now going to one of the new players, so its unclear what Wilkinson's future with the program might be when he returns in two years. It would make sense if he also ended up in the "out" category.

Who do you think the Utes will bring in of those who are currently being targeted? — @sportsfanutah

The Utes currently have two more scholarships available. They got a verbal commitment earlier this week from Southern California point guard Brandon Taylor, a 5-foot-9 point guard who led Pacific Hills High to every championship possible. With the last two spots on thsi roster, the glaring hole is obvious: A wing. The Utes are targeting Givon Crump who in his career has bounced from Baylor to Fresno State to Pasadena City Community College. At PCCC, Crump led the South Coast Conference in scoring and was the conference MVP. Will they get him? Sources indicate that Utah is at the top of Crump's list, but who knows what will happen once the signing period begins.

A quick glance at Crump's highlight video reveals why the Utes are so hooked on a guy who hasn't managed to stick at two previous Division I stops. Alongside Dotson and Dean — two proven high-level players — Crump would complete a lineup about 3 million times more athletic and talented from the one the Utes put on the floor this season.

As for that last scholarship, The Tribune has learned the Utes will probably cast an eye to the future and target a Division I transfer who would become eligible in the 2013-14 season.

How likely is david foster to be healthy and play? Any health or eligibility issues with the fall signees?@robhaws

Everyone expects Foster back. The center broke a bone in his foot in the exhibition season against Adams State, redshirted what should have been his senior year and vowed toward the end of the Pac-12 season that he would return. Foster will earn his degree this spring, is married, and has a child on the way. All those factors could keep a young man from furthering his basketball career, but Foster made it very clear he intended to return. The coaches expect him to, as well. There is no reason to expect his injury will linger, aside from the chronic nature of foot injuries with big men.

As for the incoming signees, all indications are positive. I keep getting asked about the grades of Justin Seymour, the incoming freshman combo guard from Atlanta, but I've heard nothing that would indicate he won't be available next season. The Utes see him as picking up a lot of time manning the point behind Dean, so they certainly hope he is on hand.

And one last question from our friend @sportsfanutah...

Hey Bill, I waited on pins and needles yesterday for your state of Utah basketball post. Where is it?

It's right here. Apologies for the wait.

— Bill Oram



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