Reports that Kenneth Ogbe will transfer from the program came out on Thursday, meaning the Runnin' Utes have now had seven players transfer out of the program in the past year. That is an astonshing number no matter how you slice it. Player attrition happens every year, but this season it seems extreme, especially with so many voids to be filled going into next season. So what is the reason for so many players leaving? Is it a problem with the program Krystkowiak is running, or is it simply bench players looking for a better opportunity somewhere else? Furthermore, given Krystkowiak's rapid success since taking over the program, is it really an issue?
Let's examine some of these transfers more in depth.
Brekkott Chapman's transfer to Weber State is the biggest blow to the Utes of all the transfers. Chapman was a heralded recruit coming out of high school and a local kid who had potential to start this season. He had his moments during his first two seasons contributing mostly off the bench. He started only a single game last season and averaged 4.4 ppg and 2.8 rpg. That being said, he was poised to take a step forward into a much larger role with the team this season.
The official word on his decision to transfer is he wanted to move back up toward his hometown of Roy for personal reasons. In cases like this, there is not much the program can do to retain the player. Chapman seemed to be a good fit within Krystkowiak's program, was by all accounts a good teammate, and had the potential to be a major contributor in his final two years of eligibility. It is unfortunate he decided to transfer, however there does not appear to be any outstanding rift between him and the coaching staff or a problem with the program.
The other transfers are a little more straight forward. Austin Montgomery, who walked on with Utah and Brandon Miller, a return missionary with the program for the first half of last season, both decided to move south to Dixie State to continue their playing careers. It's hard to fault either of these players for their decisions as they were mostly scout players in practice and rarely saw any playing time. The decision to move to a lower division of basketball provides them with a more competitive opportunity to earn minutes and contribute on the basketball floor. Again, these decisions do not seem to reflect poorly on the coaching staff or the program.
Another guard, Isaiah Wright made the decision to transfer to University of San Diego. Wright was at one point seen as a potential successor to Brandon Taylor at point guard and had a decent freshman season. He struggled his sophomore season however, shooting just 38.5 % from the field averaging 2.1 ppg and 1.4 apg. Paired with Wright's apparent regression is the fact that Utah has plenty of new talent arriving at the guard position with the likes of Jojo Zamora and Sedrick Barefield transferring in, the addition of freshman guard Devon Daniels and the return of Parker Van Dyke. For Wright there was a numbers crunch in the backcourt heading into next season and it was probably determined a change of scenery would be good for him. In this respect, the only negative I see is the coaching staff was not able to develop Wright, a well thought of recruit, into a player they felt comfortable giving playing time.
Down in the post, forward Chris Reyes made the decision to play his final season at Pepperdine, and Makol Mawien decided to transfer to New Mexico Junior College to develop. Reyes was a solid teammate and respectable role player for the Utes but was probably not going to play much of a factor this season with Jayce Johnson expected to start at center and the bevy of other incoming talent in the post, like David Collette, Tyler Rawson and Jakub Jokl. Likewise with Mawien, who is very raw still as a basketball player. Both saw the writing on the wall and knew if they wanted to play, they would have to go elsewhere. It's probably a good move for both and the only reason they left was because Krystkowiak was able to find better players.
Other than Chapman and maybe Wright leaving, none of these transfers are particularly concerning. These guys are mostly players looking for more playing time and were not able to rise to the top on a Pac-12 roster. If you look at the transfer destinations they are all a step down in competition.
Krystkowiak continues to churn the roster looking for talent where he can find it. Some players don't work out and that is fine. The fact that there are so many transfers this season is in large part to do with the number of JC and return missionary players coming in such as Collette, Rawson, Barefield and Van Dyke. There are a limited number of scholarships and it is the coaching staff's job to make sure they put the best team they can on the floor. Krystkowiak has a proven track record of success, and while his roster management maybe unorthodox at times, he deserves the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.