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How much work is left to finalize Utah Basketball’s roster? – Desert News

It is common knowledge among Utah basketball fans that the Runnin’ Utes never used their full allotment of thirteen available scholarships in their three years under head coach Craig Smith.

Every year, Utah entered a season on an open scholarship, although last year some post-season issues prevented the team from landing an international player committed to the Utes for the 13th spot.

A month after college basketball’s transfer portal closed, Utah still has several scholarships open — four to be exact — as the calendar turns to June.

Here’s a look at what the roster’s makeup currently looks like:

Scholarship players on Utah’s 2024-2025 roster

  • Gabe Madsen, G, senior.
  • Mason Madsen, G, senior.
  • Lawson Lovering, C, senior.
  • Hunter Erickson, G, senior.
  • Ezra Ausar, F, junior.
  • Zach Keller, F, junior.
  • Miro Little, G, sophomore.
  • Jake Wahlin, F, sophomore.
  • Keanu Dawes, F, sophomore.

Ausar became the last of five additions to the transfer portal this season for Utah, signing with the team a few days ago.

The 6-foot-1 power forward who previously played at East Carolina is expected to start for Utah at No. 4, where he could become a key part of the offense after averaging 11.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game for the Pirates during the 2023-2024 season while shooting 51.4% from the field.

A key part of his game is that Ausar shot a team-high 199 free throws last year, making 130 (65.9%). His ability to get to the free-throw line — Ausar averaged 6.2 free-throw attempts per game last season — could come in handy for a Utes team that has been notorious for struggling at the line over the past year, especially in conference play.

Which positions are the biggest needs for Utah now?

After adding a scoring power forward, the Utes still have four open slots.

Considering there are a handful of walk-ons who could be back on the team next season in Utah’s first year in the Big 12 – including guards Jayden Teat, Jerry Huang and Brandon Haddock, as well as forwards Ayomide Bamisile and Caleb Lohner ( the former BYU and Baylor forward) – here’s what the depth could look like at this point for Utah next year:

  • PG: Small.
  • SG: Mason Madsen/Erickson.
  • SF: Gabe Madsen/Dawes.
  • P.F.: Ausar/Wahlin/Lohner.
  • C: Love/Keller.

There are two positions that seem like the most urgent areas where Utah needs to add depth before the season starts.

Point guard: While guys like Erickson and Mason Madsen could provide some minutes at point guard alongside Little, a former four-star prospect who played deep on Baylor’s bench last year, Utah would do well to add some experience at the position to help Little, the presumed starter.

Centre: Keller has played more of a 4 position during his college career – his inclusion as a backup center on the projected depth chart is more of an indication that Utah needs more center-oriented help there. Lovering started 24 games in his first season at Utah and is the incumbent there, although he got into foul trouble at times and could use a good backup who challenged for minutes.

What about the technical staff?

It appears Smith has found a potential gem for one of his vacant assistant coaching staff spots, adding former Sacramento State assistant Loren Leath to his staff in the same capacity.

Leath has strong ties to California and played a big role in Utah just over a week ago by bringing in seven high-level recruits, an indication of what the future could bring if the program can mine talent from California.

The Utes have one other open assistant coaching position, as well as the program’s director of basketball operations.

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