The Runnin’ Utes will be stocked with young talent next season.
They might, however, be lacking in the experienced size department.
Utah will reportedly lose two centers to transfers. Senior-to-be Jayce Johnson will in fact leave Salt Lake City to enroll as a grad transfer at Marquette University, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Johnson, a 7-foot, 235-pound big man, averaged 7.1 points per game and 7.7 rebounds per game last year with the Utes. He’ll be eligible to play one final collegiate season with the Golden Eagles.
Johnson reportedly visited Nebraska, too, before finally settling on Marquette. At Marquette, Johnson will join Utah prep products Brendan Bailey (American Fork) and Koby McEwen (Wasatch Academy). The Golden Eagles went 24-10 this season and clinched a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Marquette signed head coach Steve Wojciechowski to a five-year contract extension earlier this week.
That’s not going to be the only change on the hill.
Center Brandon Morley appears to be headed down I-15. Tony Jones of The Athletic reported Wednesday that the 7-foot center from Bingham High is transferring to Utah Valley University to play for new UVU coach Mark Madsen.
Morley transferred to Utah after playing one season at Salt Lake Community College. Morley began his college career at Western Nebraska Community College out of high school.
In his one season at Utah, Morley played in 16 games, averaging 2.4 points per game.
Utah’s incoming freshman class next year does feature some of its own size. Pleasant Grove center Matt Van Komen stands at 7-foot-4, while Branden Carlson is a four-star 6-foot-9 power forward from Bingham High who is returning from his mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Also coming into the mix is 6-foot-8 finish power forward Mikael Jantunen, who committed to Utah in the fall.
On Tuesday, Utah made the addition of 6-foot-1 guard Alfonso Plummer official. Plummer, a sophomore out of Arizona Western Community College, averaged 18.6 points per game at AWCC last year.
“Alfonso is a great young man who will fit into our culture and system very well,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “He is a great shooter. He has had quite the journey so far, and we are happy to have him join our program.”
Utah is coming off a 17-14 season, having missed the NCAA Tournament for a third straight season. The Utes’ schedule is still being finalized, although eight games are booked: BYU (home), Minnesota (home), Weber State (Vivint Smart Home Arena), Nevada (road), Kentucky (Las Vegas) and three games in a November tournament at Myrtle Beach, S.C.