When former University of Utah men’s basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak hired then-Utah State assistant Chris Jones late in the summer of 2016 to serve as his director of basketball operations, there was one giant assumption attached.
Three years down the road, Jones’ son, Rylan, a top-125 prospect and a top-15 national point guard recruit from the class of 2019, would suit up for Krystkowiak.
That assumption came to fruition, Jones committing to Krystkowiak on Aug. 8, 2017, before his junior year at Olympus High School began. He arrived in Salt Lake City two years later, taking control of the point guard position on one of the youngest teams in the country.
Halfway through his college career, Jones, whose father played for late, legendary Utes head coach Rick Majerus in the early-1990s, is ready for a change. The 6-foot Holladay native has entered the NCAA Transfer Portal, a source with access to the database told The Salt Lake Tribune Friday afternoon.
With Jones now on the open market, multiple sources have indicated to The Tribune that Utah State and new head coach Ryan Odom are expected to be at the front of the line for Jones, who has three years of eligibility remaining after the NCAA froze the eligibility clock for winter sport athletes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jones is the ninth Ute to enter the transfer portal since March 15, the day before Krystkowiak was fired. Of those nine, Lahat Thioune and Riley Battin have opted to return, while five have found new homes, including Timmy Allen (Texas), Alfonso Plummer (Illinois), and Ian Martinez (Maryland). A 10th Ute, Mikael Jantunen, will turn professional back home in Europe.
Twice named Mr. Basketball in the state of Utah while starring for Olympus as a junior and senior, Jones grew up with a strong sense of Utah basketball history, his father suiting up for Majerus during the 1993 and 1994 seasons. Chris Jones was later a video coordinator for Majerus (1995-97), then served as director of basketball operations and an assistant coach on later Utes staffs during the 2000s.
Much of Rylan’s adolescence was spent with his father on staff at Utah State under Stew Morrill from 2008-16.
In 45 career games across two seasons at Utah, Jones averaged 7.6 points and 4.3 assists per game, but his number took a drastic dip as a sophomore last season. During that COVID-impacted campaign, Jones averaged just 4.4 points on 35.7% shooting to go along with 4.0 assists in 17 games.
Jones missed the final five games and nine of the final 10 last season after suffering a right shoulder injury in mid-February.
With Jones presumably not returning to Utah, the Utes unofficially have four open scholarships for next season.
Former Ute Norbert Thelissen commits to Utah State
With Utah State potentially going after Jones, it scored another former Utah player from the transfer portal Friday afternoon.
Norbert Thelissen, a 6-foot-7 Dutch forward who has played professionally in the Netherlands, has committed to Odom and the Aggies, multiple sources told The Tribune Friday afternoon.
Thelissen was on scholarship last season with the Utes, but was not going to be eligible until 2021-22 due to amateurism issues. He remained in the Netherlands during this academic year, in which he completed 24 credit hours.
Thelissen, whose recruitment was spearheaded by former Krystkowiak assistant and overseas recruiting ace Andy Hill, entered the transfer portal on April 2.