Utah Utes Basketball: Who’s the best small forward?

Utah's Princeton Onwas drives to the hoop as Utah and Ball State play Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013 in the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

I have what I consider a modest following on twitter, currently 344 followers. Today, I asked one question expecting low response. Instead, I got  a lengthy conversation and some fired up Utah Utes fans.

I was expecting simple two-player lists from a few of my more active followers. Instead, I received a lot more response than usual and a conversation of which of the four is really the best. Let me lay out who really is the best small forward option for the Utes. I will even rank them for you. (Please leave your comments and let me know where I am wrong/right)

The way you look at things is important. So, for clarification, I ignored the weak non-conference schedule in all the stats that are referenced. In my opinion, winning in your conference is the most important thing.

1. Dakarai Tucker

Why is Dakarai in the one spot? There are two things that give Tucker the edge over Onwas. First, statistically, Tucker contributes to wins more than Onwas. Tucker has a win share of 0.80. This is good for fifth on the team behind Wright, Loveridge, Taylor, and Bachynski.

Second, Tucker is a better shooter. Tucker is shooting 37.8% from three point range. Onwas is at 25% from three point range. Tucker is also the best free throw shooter on the team with a 90% free throw percentage. As a side note, Tucker also turns the ball over the least of the four players.

2. Princeton Onwas

Interestingly enough, the consensus from twitter was that Onwas had the upper hand in defense and experience. I will admit I agree to some extent, but I also have my questions.

Experience – Onwas is considered more experienced because he is a JC transfer. I would argue that Tucker is the most experienced. He has a year on Onwas when it comes to playing for Coach Krystkowiak and in playing in the PAC-12. I know Onwas has played some JC ball, but I think Tucker is just as experienced.

Defense – As I started to write this, I really thought Onwas would stand out defensively. Not so fast. In looking at rebounds, steals, blocks and defensive win shares, the difference between Tucker and Onwas is just not that big. In defensive rebounding, Tucker beats Onwas in average rebounds per game (Onwas 1, Tucker 2.4), average rebounds per 40 minutes (Onwas 2.7, Tucker 3.9), and in defensive rebound rate (Onwas 6.7%, Tucker 8.7%). With that I will easily give Tucker the advantage. (That was a little overboard wasn’t it?)

Looking at the other defensive categories it is pretty close honestly. I was thinking Onwas would win out, but it is a draw really with Onwas having a slight edge.

3. Kenneth Ogbe

Ogbe has played the third most minutes of the three. He is also the best three point shooter of this bunch.  When his career ends with the Utes, I expect he will play a lot more shooting guard than small forward. He has the size to play both. When it comes to Ogbe these next two quotes from Larry Krystkowiak get me pretty excited.

He’s got language barriers and cultural barriers and all kinds of things that he’s dealing with. But I think he’s got a tremendous future and it’s really nice to see him making some plays. (Deseret News)

The kid reminds me of Dakarai [Tucker] and Brandon [Taylor] from a year ago. (Salt Lake Tribune)

4. Ahmad Fields

In the end, Fields will be the small forward of the future. His early numbers are good to see in the limited minutes he has played (7 minutes per game). He has a 14.5 PER and a true shooting percentage of 68.8%. The kid is playing great on the offensive side which shows some serious progress from when he came out against Oregon looking like a deer in headlights.

Where do you rank these players?


All stats are from Sports-Reference.com

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.