Ask any Utah basketball fan who the most anonymous player on the team is, and Ahmad Fields will probably get a lot of votes.
It’s not just because Fields is a freshman. Or that he’d gotten off Larry Krystkowiak’s bench just once in Pac-12 play before Saturday’s loss to Colorado. Or that he’s from Washington, D.C., not a heralded recruit and doesn’t have the local appeal of, say, Parker Van Dyke.
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Fields is quiet and unassuming. He’ll politely speak when spoken to, but he’s nowhere near the gabbiest talker on the team.
But that might be about to change.
Fields, a 6-foot-6 small forward, scored nine points Saturday at Colorado, the first points of his career in league play. He played great defense on Xavier Johnson. He received extended minutes for the first time in his Utah career, and he made an impression on just about everyone in the process.
"He was great," Krystkowiak said Monday. "At some point in a season, everyone gets a turn. I think it’s Ahmad’s turn right now. He came in, he played well on both sides of the ball and he’s been playing well in practice for a while now. He’s never whined about it, and he’s always played hard."
At the halfway point of the conference season, Krystkowiak is still tinkering with his lineups and rotations. He’s settled on a starting five, but backup minutes at the wing spots have been up for grabs seemingly the entire year.
Fields has received the least playing time of all the shooting guards and small forwards. On Saturday, however, he looked ready to play. He made a 3-pointer. He almost single-handedly supplied Utah with a transition game, scoring several layups. He made a pretty cut down the lane, slicing through Colorado’s zone defense for a score.
"I’ve just tried to stay ready," Fields said. "The coaches have been telling me to be ready and they’ve been telling me that I’m going to get a chance to play, so I’ve been waiting my turn."
For most of the year, Fields has been developing. In one game, though, he showed attributes that nobody else on the roster has. He provided energy and defense on the wing. He showed a toughness that was largely missing from everywhere else. He ran the floor and provided Delon Wright with a partner in transition.
When asked, Krystkowiak said Fields will continue to get opportunities as the season goes on. As good as Fields was against Colorado, the question is whether he can play that well consistently. Because consistency has certainly been missing for the Utes off the bench.
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