Utah’s roster is decimated, BYU remains intact, USU has work to do — diving into basketball rosters as the transfer portal closes

Utah lost eight significant players in April, as Craig Smith tries to rebuild going to the Big 12.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes center Keba Keita (13) as Utah hosts Bellarmine, NCAA basketball in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023.

The transfer portal is officially closed. Well, sort of.

May 1 was the deadline for most players to decide whether they’d stay at their current schools or test the waters. But in BYU’s case, players will get a bit of an extension.

Since head coach Mark Pope left for Kentucky on April 12, BYU’s roster will have one month from that date to hit the portal. That means May 12 will be the actual end of college basketball’s free agency.

But for the most part, the transfer portal activity in Utah is over. Here is where each roster stands after a month of movement.


The sky isn’t falling in Utah just yet — but it sure feels that way.

This portal cycle left the Utes’ roster in tatters right as head coach Craig Smith was gaining traction.

To recap, the Utes lost two of their best players to the transfer portal: point guard Deivon Smith and center Keba Keita. That is on top of two other starters, Branden Carlson and Cole Bajema, graduating.

Utah’s backup point guard, Rollie Worster, left for Nebraska. And some of the depth pieces like Ben Carlson, Luka Tarlać and Wilguens Exacte Jr. are also in the portal.

That means eight players of significance are gone from last year’s roster. That is a massive blow as Utah heads into the Big 12 — the best basketball conference in the country.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes guard Deivon Smith (5) high-fives fans after the win as Utah hosts Virginia Commonwealth in the NIT quarterfinals, NCAA basketball in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, March 27, 2024.

The hits don’t stop with the players either. Utah lost two of its top assistants in Chris Burgess and DeMarlo Slocum. April was not kind to the Utes.

Now, Smith has to fill out his coaching staff and add around five scholarship players in short order.

He has already signed Rice transfer Keanu Dawes and Boston College transplant Mason Madsen. Wake Forest big man Zach Keller is coming, too. But this roster is sparse and needs more talent quickly heading into the summer.

Significant pieces returning:

G | Gabe Madsen (starter)

F | Lawson Lovering (starter)

G | Hunter Erickson

Significant players added:

G | Mason Madsen

F | Zach Keller

F | Keanu Dawes

Players to work with:

F | Jake Wahlin


Early on, it looked like a mass exodus was in store for new head coach Kevin Young. When Pope left for Kentucky, BYU’s top two players hit the portal — Dallin Hall and Richie Saunders.

Shooting guard Jaxson Robinson declared for the NBA draft and the portal. Atiki Ally Atiki wanted to test the waters. Aly Khalifa went to Louisville

But Young — while finishing up a playoff run with the Phoenix Suns — kept the roster in shape. Hall and Saunders left lucrative NIL deals on the table to return to BYU. Young added former USC commit Brody Kozlowski. He kept key guards Dawson Baker and Noah Waterman in place.

It solidifies a roster that is now returning most of its production from a fifth-place finish in the Big 12 last year.

Robinson is still likely gone, but BYU can work with that. Robinson was always expected to leave Provo after this season. Now, Young can start building around the core. The cupboard is not bare.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brigham Young Cougars guard Dallin Hall (30) takes the ball inside, asKansas State Wildcats forward David N'Guessan (1) defends in basketball action between the Brigham Young Cougars and the Kansas State Wildcats, at the Marriott Center, on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024.

Significant players returning:

G | Dallin Hall (starter)

G | Trevin Knell (starter)

G | Richie Saunders

F | Noah Waterman (starter)

G | Dawson Baker

F | Fousseyni Traore

Significant players added:

G | Brody Kozlowski

Players to work with:

G | Trey Stewart

G | Isaac Davis

Utah State

New coach Jerrod Calhoun said he could win a national championship if everyone from 2023 stayed.

He didn’t get his wish. Utah State’s transfer portal decimation was significant.

Mountain West player of the year Great Osobor left almost immediately. Sixth man of the year Josh Uduje hit the portal. Kalifa Sakho did, too.

Calhoun did get point guard Mason Falslev and center Isaac Johnson to stay. Ian Martinez is aboard, as well.

But in total, 10 players are heading out of Logan.

USU has been here before. Last year, then-head coach Danny Sprinkle didn’t return a single point of production. He ended up winning the conference and an NCAA tournament game.

But Calhoun has work to do.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah State Aggies forward Great Osobor (1) dunks the ball as Utah State faces San Francisco in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023.

Significant players returning:

G | Mason Falslev

G | Ian Martinez

F | Isaac Johnson

Significant players added:

G | Drake Allen

G | Tucker Anderson

G | Braden Housley

Players to work with:

F | Karson Templin