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Utah Basketball: Krystkowiak will greet deep, versatile class

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Coach Larry Krystkowiak’s Utah Utes are 6-24 in his first season with the team.

By Tony Jones

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Apr 14 2014 01:07PM
Updated Apr 14, 2014 11:46PM

When coach Larry Krystkowiak accepted the Utah basketball job in 2011, he also accepted the fact that his rebuilding process was going to take time.

Then he lured in Jordan Loveridge and Delon Wright in back-to-back recruiting classes. Suddenly the process sped up, as well as expectations. The Utes went from six wins in that first year to 15 in 2013. Then they won 21 games this past season, nine in the rugged Pac-12, and advanced to the NIT.

Now, the process seems virtually complete. Wright and Loveridge will be back next season and both will be all-conference candidates. More importantly, Krystkowiak is on the cusp of completing what will be by far the best recruiting class of his career.

Brekkott Chapman, Kyle Kuzma and Isaiah Wright are already signed. Chapman and Kuzma are both four-star prospects, with Chapman being the local prize and a top-50 prospect nationally. Wright, the Gatorade Idaho player of the year, hails from the same high school as current assistant and former Utah great Tommy Connor.

And now there’s more.

On Wednesday — the opening of the spring signing period — junior college power forward Chris Reyes is expected to formally sign on with the Utes. He’s the guy who is expected to add toughness to Utah’s frontcourt, snare some of the difficult rebounds and provide that true low-post threat that will allow Loveridge to play more on the wing.

Krystowiak’s class is versatile, it has variety and for the first time in his three years it is being recognized nationally.

Jerry Meyer — the national analyst of the 24/7 recruiting website — ranks the Utes fifth in the conference and 36th overall, behind Arizona, UCLA, Oregon and USC.

The impressive thing about the class is the overall upgrade in length, athleticism and versatility. Of the four players being brought in, only Wright doesn’t project as a multi-position guy. Chapman and Kuzma both go 6-foot-9 and both possess a perimeter game to complement their interior scoring.

Reyes is 6-7, but is athletic enough to play at center in a pinch, if needed. There’s a chance Utah adds even another player to the class, as the Utes are a finalist for 7-0 Austrian Jakob Poeltl. He visited Utah in February, and is deciding between the Utes and California. He has been described by those in the know as a program changer, one who can come in and contribute right away.

Here’s the irony. While this is Krystkowiak’s best recruiting haul, it will be the class that figures to face battles for playing time. Yes, Kuzma and Chapman will play. Yes, Reyes will play as well. But this is a deep team they will be joining, and one with a bunch of experience.

But this is exactly what Krystkowiak has aimed for. He wants options and the ability to play different lineups.

It appears this class will provide those options.

twitter: @tjonessltrib

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