Utah Utes Basketball: The Upperclassmen

Let me be honest with you, I wasn’t looking forward to the juniors and seniors this year. I was interested in watching the freshmen and sophomores develop. They are young and developing, an unknown if you will. Then the preseason scrimmage happened and reports of Lenz being the favorite to start at center. So, I got excited and have changed my expectations for the juniors and senior on this team. So, here is what I am looking for:

Renan Lenz: 6-9, 221 lbs, C

Why not start with the only senior on the team. Coming into this season I thought Lenz would be a great guy off the bench. He wasn’t fantastic last year, but he was efficient with a 13.8 PER. Then he worked his tail off this offseason while staying on campus.

“He’s really made a ton of improvement. We talked at the end of last year and I told him that he had to get into shape. He’s had a real sense of urgency because he’s a senior. I think the guys are rallying around him. This is his last go-around and you can tell that he knows this.” – Larry Krystkkowiak (From the Salt Lake Tribune)

Will Lenz be able to replace Washburn? Nope. I hope the reports are right that he has solidified himself in that role. But, he will not be able to replace the way Washburn dominated the paint offensively and defensively.

Dallin Bachynski: 7-0, 250 lbs, C

Well, I am going to try and not compare Dallin to his brother…

When I think of him I think of every time I meet a super tall guy and wonder what I could have done with that height. After leaving the team indefinitely last season I question whether he really wants to play. All I know is if I had a scholarship I would stay on the team even if I had no desire to play. But there is hope. Coach Krystkowiak actually laid out the role Dallin will hopefully take. The hustler.

“We need him to be kind of a junkyard dog. We don’t need him to score as much. We want him to bring energy and to grab every rebound and to protect the rim on defense.” – Larry Krystkowiak (From the Salt Lake Tribune)

Marko Kovacevic: 6-11, 235 lbs, F

Marko transferred and sat out his year. As a freshman he averaged 11.7 ppg and 7.8 rpg. The question is if he would be able to carry over that talent to the PAC-12. Unfortunately finding out is on the back burner while Marko heals from the wrist injury suffered early in the preseason.

Princeton Onwas: 6-5, 210 lbs, G/F

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the new upgrade of Cedric Martin. As per Tony Jones of the trib, Onwas is the most athletic guy on the team and it shows. He adds to the list of guys that the Utes now have that can get to the hoop. Hopefully more drives to the hoop equals more free throws equals a more efficient offense.

Now, I know you may have heard about Ogbe throwing it down on Onwas, but trust me he can play defense too. So, as an athletic guard/forward expect Onwas to start off the season as a starter for the Utes. The only question I have is whether he or Delon Wright will be defending the best perimeter scorer on the opposing team.

Xan Ricketts: 6-7, 217 lbs, F

I seriously can’t wait for Ricketts to get a shot on the floor. I mean the guy shot 1.000 from the field last season. Okay, he did that in only 10 minutes of play. It is going to be tough again this year for Xan to get on the floor. But,

Connor Van Brocklin: 6-5, 195 lbs, G

Connor came to the U to compete for a scholarship. However, he isn’t looking like he will be in the rotation. But if Connor sees the floor look for the outside shot. At Snow College he averaged 2.5 three-pointers per game.

Delon Wright: 6-5, 180 lbs, G

“He made some good plays. He could be a kid that’s no necessarily going to dazzle anyone, and he may not come away with 20-plus point nights, all though he’s capable of that, he could be a stat sheet stuffer. A guy that does a lot of things, gets his hands on a lot of balls defensively and is pretty quick.” – Larry Krystkowiak (From UtahUtes.com)

Delon Wright is going to be the starting point guard for the Utes. When I wrote about the sophomores I mentioned Brandon Taylor’s turnover issues. So, upon hearing that Wright is looking like the starter I was elated. I am even more excited after the scrimmage where Wright had 11 pts, 9 rebs, 6 ast, 2 stl, 1 blk. Sign me up for a lot more of that.

A little video if you missed Pac-12 Basketball Media Day

About the author

Grant Bagby

Since moving to Utah in 2005, I have changed from following all sports in D.C/Virginia to following all sports in Utah. I am a Chicago Bulls fan first (Born and raised by my father), but I am also a hardcore Jazz fan with 7 years of being a season ticket holder under my belt. I started TornBySports to write about the BYU/Utah Rivalry after Max Hall ran his mouth.