College basketball: Utes signee Josh Hearlihy says Larry Krystkowiak asked him to opt out
On the eve of Larry Krystkowiak adding to his first true recruiting class, news broke that he wanted to trim it by one player.
Forward Josh Hearlihy, who's in his senior year at Harvard-Westlake (Calif.), told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday that Krystkowiak asked him to opt out of the letter of intent he signed in November.
"I was very excited about going to Utah when I signed my letter of intent in November," Hearlihy said in a statement to the Times. "However, the coaching staff has reconsidered their commitment to me and has asked to be released from their obligation. I turned down scholarship offers and stopped exploring other options when I signed.
"Given the situation at Utah, I'm concerned about putting myself in an environment where I'm not wanted. It is still my dream to play college basketball and I will continue to work hard every day to make that dream a reality."
Through a team spokesman, Krystkowiak declined to comment.
The spring signing period for basketball begins Wednesday and lasts until May 16. Los Angeles-area point guard Brandon Taylor is expected to sign with the Utes on Wednesday, leaving the Utes minus Hearlihy with three remaining scholarship.
The Utes are familiar with nudging players out of the program Krystkowiak released six from their scholarships in the past month to make room for new recruits but cutting ties with a signed recruit was a more unusual and unexpected move.
One club coach in Utah, who asked not to be named, said the move might set a bad precedent for recruits.
"The problem you have is, can you trust the offer now?" the coach said. "So, once you sign the kid and everything is good, can you trust the fact that he's actually signed you?"
The coach said Krystkowiak may be doing Hearlihy a favor, to the extent that he's not bringing him into a situation where the coach has decided he won't fit in.
"He's actually being kind of honest," the coach said, "in the sense that you're not going to play, you're not good enough, let's call it a day right now."
While Hearlihy's statement drew criticism of Krystkowiak throughout social media, Salt Lake Community College head coach Todd Phillips said it's not unheard of for a coach to change his mind about an early signee and come to a resolution.
"A lot of the times what a school will do is they'll come back and say, 'There's a scholarship there but here's where we see you,' " Phillips said. "'We don't see you playing. We don't see you beating out these guys.' â¦ They kind of paint the picture."