Runnin’ Utes basketball’s Branden Carlson announces his future plans

Utah’s best player last season will return to the program for a fifth season.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes center Branden Carlson (35) goes to the hoop, as UCLA guard Jaylen Clark (0) forward Adem Bona (3) defend for the Bruins at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Feb. 23, 2022.

Utah Runnin’ Utes center Branden Carlson had a breakout 2022-23 season. He averaged 16.4 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting 33.1% from the 3-point line. Two months ago, he declared for the NBA Draft, but kept his options open for a return to college basketball.

On Wednesday, he made his decision: He’ll be wearing red and white again.

Carlson announced on Twitter that he will return to the Runnin’ Utes for a fifth season.

“This year, the NBA process has taught me a lot and showed me the level that I aspire to be,” Carlson said in a video message. “But I’m not done here. Not yet.”

Carlson went on to say he has been thinking about his legacy as a player and teammate on the Runnin’ Utes.

“There is unfinished business,” Carlson said. “I have more to give, more to achieve with the MUSS and with you.”

Carlson said in March that if the COVID-19 pandemic hadn’t happened, he would be done with college basketball. But the extra year of eligibility allowed him to return for a final season.

Carlson returns to a team that had several players leave via the transfer portal in recent months after a 17-15 record and failure to make even the National Invitation Tournament. But with him in the fold, the Runnin’ Utes have a go-to option on offense and a leader on and off the court.