2022 Record: 17-15 (10-10)
Head Coach: Craig Smith (Career Record 253-143) (Utah Record 28-35)
PG: Rollie Worster (8.7 Pts, 5.2 Reb, 5.0 Ast)
SG: Cole Bajema (Washington 8.8 Pts, 4.2 Reb, 0.5 Ast)
SF: Gabe Madsen (11.6 Pts, 2.7 Reb, 1.7 Ast)
PF: Ben Carlson (4.5 Pts, 4.6 Reb, 0.4 Ast)
C: Branden Carlson (16.3 Pts, 7.5 Reb, 1.5 Ast)
6: Deivon Smith (Georgia Tech 8.0 Pts, 5.6 Reb, 3.7 Ast) (Double Transfer, Waiver TBA)
7: C Lawson Lovering (Colorado 4.9 Pts, 4.7 Reb, 0.9 Ast)
8: SF Wilguens Exacte (3.6 Pts, 1.3 Reb, 0.7 Ast)
9: SG Hunter Erickson (Salt Lake CC- 12.1 Pts, 3.9 Reb, 5.4 Ast)
10: C Keba Keita (3.0 Pts, 3.4 Reb, 0.1 Ast)
11: PF Jake Wahlin
12: PF Karahan Efeoglu
13: SG Luka Tarlac (0.9 Pts, 0.7 Reb, 0.2 Ast)
One of the biggest wins for Utah this offseason was getting starting center Branden Carlson to return to the Utes for his 5th season. Carlson has grown tremendously into becoming an all-league caliber big man he averaged just over 16PPG to go along with 7.5RPG last season. He could improve upon that and be closer to a 20 and 10 player next season. Carlson also has the ability to shoot from beyond the arc. He’s a career 34% three point shooter at 7 feet tall. He’s also developed into an elite shot blocker over the course of his Utah career. Also returning to the Utes this upcoming season is rising senior forward Ben Carlson, no relation to Branden. Ben previously spent 2 seasons at Wisconsin before transferring to Utah. He starting every game last season for Utah where he showed he can be a team player. One of his biggest attributes is on the defensive end. He defends well on the interior and also rebounds at a high level.
Other returners expected to start this season for the Utes is PG Rollie Worster and SF Gabe Madsen. Worster is a pass first point guard that is excellent at finding his teammates open and also displays great court vision. Worster isn’t the best 3 point shooter as he’s below 30% for his career, but he makes up for it in nearly every other facet of the game including rebounding in which he averages over 5RPG from the PG position. Gabe Madsen is going to be the primary three point shooter for the Utes this upcoming season. Madsen, a former Cincy transfer, averaged just over 11PPG last season and led the team in three point percentage with a 36% mark. Other players returning to the Utes next season are Keba Keita who fills a backup center position for Craig Smith’s squad. The other returner is SG Wilguens Exacte Jr who put up just over 3PPG as a freshman last season in minimal game action.
Utah also went to the portal to fill a few spots on the team this offseason. The Utes landed Pac-12 transfers Cole Bajema from Washington and Lawson Lovering from Colorado. Bajema has a ton of experience as he’s going into his 5th season of CBB after spending time with Michigan and Washington. Bajema, like Madsen, will also be an elite three point shooter for the Utes next season. Bajema also has excellent size and length for the SG position at 6-7. Lawson Lovering gives the Utes another depth piece at the center position behind Branden Carlson. Lovering stands at 7-1 and started every game last season for Colorado. He averaged 5PPG and 5RPG. He also excelled on the defensive end specifically interior defense and disrupting shots at the rim.
Utah also got a commitment from Georgia Tech transfer guard Deivon Smith. He is a double transfer and hasn’t graduated yet so he is going to need a waiver in order to be eligible this upcoming season and waivers have been hard to come by. Smith is a very good defender and has exceptional lateral quickness. Shooting isn’t a strength of his but he does have the quickness and athleticism to get to the rim and finish at a high rate. It is unlikely that he gets to play this year though, however in the 2023-24 season he will be a force for the Utes. Hunter Erickson is going to be an interesting piece off the bench for the Utes next season. He spent 2 seasons at BYU and spent this past season at Salt Lake CC. At SLCC this season he averaged just over 12PPG and was a great shooter from beyond the arc at 42%. and shot 52% overall. Utah also landed freshman PFs Jake Wahlin ranked #147 in the 247 rankings out of Provo, UT. They also landed international big man Karahan Efeoglu from Turkey.
Utah should be improved from their 17-15 record last season, but they still have a difficult road to become a tournament team again. Utah looks to be 7th in the Pac-12 next year according to the preseason standings. They could potentially make the NIT next season which would end a 5 year postseason drought. They do have a lot of promising pieces though, and could be a team that could potentially