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Utah Basketball - The emergence of Princeton Onwas

First Published      Last Updated Feb 25 2014 09:58 pm

The jump from junior college basketball to Division I hoops is a big one.

And it's one that different players handle in different ways. Take the case of Utah forward Princeton Onwas. He started for much of the non-league schedule, and then came off the bench for the entire month of January. He even found himself lacking for time in some spots, most notably against Colorado, when Ahmad Fields ate into his minutes.

So, what's behind the resurgence? What's behind Onwas providing Utah with the defense and athleticism that was initially advertised when he committed last spring?

The answer is simple and complex as well. Sometimes, it takes time. In some ways, Onwas needed to buy into Larry Krystkowiak's system. Utah's coach is one who will simply sit you if you aren't playing well defensively, or giving max effort at all times. That goes for practice, as well as games.

Learning the system offensively has been a bit of an issue. Not that Onwas didn't know the plays, or anything. But just recently, he's become comfortable enough to make plays and make movements without thinking.

And Onwas has finally made his stunning athleticism work for him. He's defending like a madman. He's getting steals and blocks and deflections. He's running out in transition, and getting dunks and lay-ups. When he's doing all of that, he gives Utah an extra dimension.

"A lot of players have their ups and downs during a season and Princeton has had his a little bit in his own right," Krystkowiak said.

The key for Onwas going forward is keeping that effort, and keeping his momentum. Whether he starts against Colorado remains to be seen. But if he does or doesn't, he will certainly be a key cog in what the Utes do going forward.

Tony Jones