Utes land a junior college transfer, still have one open basketball scholarship

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak as the University of Utah hosts Oregon State, NCAA men's basketball in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020.

The University of Utah men’s basketball team is down to one available scholarship for the 2020 recruiting cycle.

Jordan Kellier, a 6-foot-6 Jamaican-born wing out of Williston State College, a Division I junior college in North Dakota, committed to head coach Larry Krystkowiak and the Utes on Monday morning.

Kellier, who has been riding out the COVID-19 pandemic in North Dakota, has three years to play after averaging 17.4 points and 8.6 rebounds last season for the Tetons.

“I feel like I’m an all-around player, I can do a little bit of everything,” Kellier told The Salt Lake Tribune. “I can score, I can rebound, I’m willing to guard the best player on the opposing team, I bring that tenacity.

“I think I get along with everyone, and I’m always open to learning, whether it’s teammates or the coaching staff. I’m excited to get going.”

Utah, which had two open scholarships for most of June after Wasatch Academy forward Caleb Lohner asked out of his National Letter of Intent, reached out to Kellier some time during the past two weeks. That came after the Utes had struck out on multiple high school prospects in an effort to fill the open slots.

Given the pandemic, Kellier did not visit the Salt Lake City campus, or any other campus for that matter, so the recruitment primarily took place over Zoom.

“It was honestly a difficult process because I couldn’t visit anywhere, but after a Zoom call with the whole staff and my family, I was really sold on how prepared they were and how they approach things,” Kellier said. “The staff all seem like genuine people. They care about their players, and I want to be somewhere where I’m cared about. This place seems like a great fit.”

Utah was the highest-level program to offer Kellier, who also had Eastern Illinois, Prairie View A&M, Alabama State after him. Reading into that heavily may not be prudent for a variety of reasons. For starters, it is very late in the recruiting cycle and rosters are mostly set for the 2020-21 season. To that end, Kellier was underrecruited, if at all, before this month because his academic situation was uncertain. On June 16, Kellier tweeted the NCAA had cleared him as a Division I qualifier, opening the door for interest and offers.

From the Utah perspective, it was getting late to fill roster holes, and Kellier, who said he expects to be on campus in mid-July, appears to help in terms of athleticism and versatility.

“I’ve just worked hard and tried to stay committed,” Kellier said. “Do those things, trust the people around you, your teammates and coaches, and good things will happen.”