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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

August 7th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball


Utah Utes

Overall Rank: #96

Conference Rank: #5 MWC


2005-06: 14-15, 6-10, 6th

2005-06 postseason: none


Utah was streaky at best last season while learning to play without Andrew Bogut.  This year, Coach Ray Giacoletti only has one senior on the squad; thus, the best of Utah is still to come. 


Who’s Out: The departures of Bryant Markson, Chris Jackson and Jonas Langvad will leave the frontcourt relatively inexperienced.  Markson, the teams leading scorer, averaged 13.2 points and 5.4 boards last season.  Jackson started 18 games, while Langvad saw most of his 12.9 minutes per game off of the bench.  Roleplayers Casey Iverson and Tim Drisdom have also run out of eligibility. 


Who’s In: Point guard Curtis Eatmon highlights the group of perimeter newcomers.  Eatmon, who hails from Rancho Cucamonga, California, has great floor vision and is an excellent transition passer.  If he isn’t starting right away, he will be soon.  Wing Stephen Weigh continues the Australia Institute of Sport to Utah pipeline.  Luca Drca and Craig Cusick will provide some depth to the guard spots.  Daniel Deane was rated one of the best power forwards in the west and could be starting right away for the Utes.  He won’t hit many outside shots, but Deane will never be accused of lacking hustle.  That intensity especially helps out in the rebounding department where the 6-8 Salt Lake City native will go after everything in his sight.  Misha Rodojevic redshirted last year after transferring from the Polytechnic Academy.  The 6-10, 255 pound center has the experience and toughness to contribute right away.  David Foster, a 7-1 center, doesn’t have the strength to compete at this level yet, but he can run well for his size and has loads of potential.  Frenchman Kim Tillie already has a lot of experience at the international level and that will help him at Utah.  Tillie is very athletic for a 6-9, 205 pound forward and can play at either forward spot.


Who to Watch: The frontcourt may lack experienced depth, but Luke Nevill and Shaun Green are full of potential.  Nevill, hailed as the next Bogut, averaged 11.6 points and 6.6 rebounds as a freshman.  He is now the leader of the frontcourt and it is hoped he will have a breakout season as a sophomore.  Green can play either forward spot and can step out and hit the long ball with consistency.  He is a match-up problem no matter if he plays the three or the four.


Final Projection: Johnnie Bryant is the only proven scorer on the perimeter.  Utah fans hope that Eatmon can handle the point so Bryant is free to roam as the shooting guard.  If that doesn’t happen, Bryant will be forced to run the show and his scoring will take a hit.  There are other options in the backcourt such as Lawrence Borha and Chris Grant, both of whom have starting experience, but neither are major scoring threats.  In all, six players return who played in over ten minutes per game last year.  Add that to the newcomers who are expected to contribute right away, and there is some experience on this team.  That should be enough to keep the Utes in the top five in the conference, but not quite enough to make a trip to the postseason. 


Projected Post-season Tournament: none


Projected Starting Five:

Curtis Eatmon, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season

Johnnie Bryant, Junior, Guard, 13.1 points per game

Shaun Green, Sophomore, Forward, 6.4 points per game

Daniel Deane, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season

Luke Nevill, Sophomore, Center, 11.6 points per game

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