2007-08 Utah Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #130
Conference Rank: #6 Mountain West
2006-07: 11-19, 6-10, 6th (t)
2006-07 postseason: none
Utah is still trying to find a way back to its quickly diminishing glory days of Andrew Bogut. Enter Coach Jim Boylen. Being prepped for a head coaching job by Judd Heathcote, Rudy Tomjanovich and Tom Izzo is an impressive pedigree and Boylen is working hard to get the Utes basketball program back to where it wants to be. Boylen has a nice blend of NBA ties and collegiate experience and that is expected to help immensely on the recruiting front.
It helps that Utah returns five of their top six scorers. Ricky Johns started 18 contests during his senior season, averaging 7.5 points per game and will be the most difficult player to replace. The problem is that much of the depth is gone. Daniel Deane and Misha Radojevic are transferring and David Foster will be spending the next two years on his LDS Church mission. Deane, Radojevic and Foster were not big impact players, but that is a lot of frontcourt depth that is heading out of Salt Lake City.
The newcomers will need to be ready to come off the bench right away. Power forward Morgan Grim may end up to be the best of the bunch. The 6-9 Riverton, Utah native could stand to bulk up a bit, but he can move around the basket and will step out and hit the mid-range jumper. Point guard Tyler Kepkay is a hardworking junior college transfer. He is a smart player who can pass and score. The NJCAA All-American led the juco ranks with 27.9 points per game and will, at the least, be a quality option off the bench from day one. Carlon Brown was a prolific prep scorer and should add another long range threat to the team. Redshirt freshman walk-on Craig Cusick will add emergency depth to the backcourt.
Who to Watch:
This team is all about Luke Nevill. The lack of a winning team has kept the 7-1 center out of the national spotlight, but as the team gets better that will change. They better improve quickly though since Nevill only has two years left to make a Bogut-like splash. Nevill averaged 16.8 points and 7.7 rebounds as a sophomore and is only getting more consistent with more experience. For 7-1, he is a decent shooter and can step out and hit the short jumper and will knock down about three-quarters of his attempts from the charity stripe. The emergence of forward Shawn Green makes the frontcourt even more dynamic. The 6-8 junior has terrific range and hit over half of his attempts from beyond the arc. He is a tough rebounder and a nightmare to guard and compliments Nevill’s skills quite well.
Johnnie Bryant is a proven scorer, but getting more production out of the backcourt will be the difference between a surprisingly good season and another sixth place finish. Bryant, a 6-0 senior, averaged 15.1 points and 2.7 assists and made nearly three shots from long range per game. Lawrence Borha and Stephen Weigh have starting experience, but neither are consistent shooters. Yet, with another year of experience for the youngsters, expectations for them are rising. Weigh showed flashes of brilliance as a freshman and he can score from anywhere on the court. If that develops into a little more consistent scoring from the 6-6 Australian, the Utes will be better than last year. Guards Luka Drca and Curtis Eatmon are candidates to earn some more minutes off the bench after receiving spot starting duty last season.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Johnnie Bryant, Senior, Guard, 15.1 points per game
Lawrence Borha, Junior, Guard, 4.9 points per game
Stephen Weigh, Sophomore, Guard, 7.5 points per game
Shaun Green, Junior, Forward, 11.1 points per game
Luke Nevill, Junior, Forward, 16.8 points per game