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Utah Runnin’ Utes redshirt freshman Brendan Wenzel to transfer

Freshman guard played sparingly in two of Utah’s five games this season

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes guard Brendan Wenzel (30) makes a move inside, as University of Texas at Tyler Patriots Bradley Mason (1) defends, in basketball action between the Utes and the University of Texas at Tyler Patriots, at the Jon M. Huntsman Center, Oct. 30, 2019.

On Dec. 17, the University of Utah had played four games, but Brendan Wenzel had played in only one. That was the Dec. 3 season-opening win over the University of Washington, where the redshirt freshman guard play four minutes, well outside coach Larry Krystkowiak’s rotation.

Wenzel’s absence from the rotation was noticeable, so the 10th-year Utes coach was asked about it.

“He’s had a good week, addressed a few things, and right now, some other guys are ahead of him, but he...,” Krystkowiak said at the time. “He can shoot the ball and he’s got some size, but there’s some stuff behind the scenes we need to work out that I would just rather not share. He has a good understanding for what it’s going to take and I wouldn’t bet against him.”

On Monday, 11 days after Krystkowiak addressed the situation, Wenzel entered the NCAA Transfer Portal, a source told The Salt Lake Tribune.

Wenzel played a total of 11 minutes in two of Utah’s five games this season. He did not score in either of his two appearances.

With the NCAA having frozen the eligibility clock for fall and winter athletes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wenzel did not lose any eligibility this season. A onetime UTEP commit and former three-star recruit out of O’Connor High School near San Antonio, he will still have four seasons to play wherever he lands.

As for Utah, given the eligibility freeze, if its lone senior this season, Alfonso Plummer, opts to return next season, he would not count against the NCAA Division I maximum of 13 basketball scholarships. With Wenzel out of the picture, the Utes should have one open scholarship for 2021-22.

In the wake of what turned out to be a false-positive test last weekend, Utah (4-1, 1-0 Pac-12) returned to practice over the weekend in anticipation of taking the Pac-12′s Los Angeles road swing. The Utes are at UCLA on New Year’s Eve (5 p.m., Fox Sports 1) and at USC on Saturday (2 p.m., Pac-12 Networks).

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