The regular season ends Saturday for the University of Utah here in Eugene, Ore. As I've detailed before, it's been a historically bad season for Utah basketball.
It's the first 20-loss season in school history and the first season in school history without a road win, though that could change Saturday at Matthew Knight Arena this afternoon.
The question I'm often asked is: How much better will Utah basketball be next season?
This is a difficult question to answer in detail, but my simple response is they will be better in talent.
How many more wins will this result in? That I can't say. Larry Krystkowiak and his staff have already secured commitments from five quality recruits in the early signing period, plus two transfers. Here's a quick snapshot of who they are and what they will bring:
Jordan Loveridge: The West Jordan High senior is in the process of leading his squad in the 5A state playoffs. Loveridge is a 6-foot-6 wing player who ranked in the ESPN Top-100 recruits for 2012. He will be an immediate impact player for Utah next season.
Dallin Bachynski: This 6-foot-11 Canadian/returned missionary/transfer from Southern Utah might be the "find" of this recruiting class. He's big and physical, but also with the skill to step out on the floor and shoot the ball. He will provide excellent depth up front next season.
Josh Hearlihy: This L.A.-area product is a 6-foot-7 small forward. I had the chance to meet Josh and his family at the USC game. He's excited about getting to Utah and helping turn the program around.
Justin Seymour: Here's where the backcourt help comes in. Seymour is a 6-foot-3 combo guard from Marietta, Ga. He, along with LSU transfer Aaron Dotson, should provide quality and depth at the two guard position.
Jeremy Olsen: Another big body, Olsen already is a member of the Utah basketball family. He returns from a mission with his 6-foot-10 235-pound frame. The Georgia native will add yet more size to what has been a thin frontline this season.
Glen Dean: The Eastern Washington point guard transfer will likely run the show next season. Dean, who had major brain surgery in December, is right on schedule in his recovery. He is a former Big Sky Freshman of the Year and a leader that is well-liked by teammates.
Aaron Dotson: The LSU shooting guard transfer is the most likely candidate to start at the two-guard spot next season. Dotson has been able to practice all this season and at 6-foot-4 meets the right physical build and skill set for a Pac-12 shooting guard.
In addition, the Utah staff will continue to hit the recruiting trail hard this spring for additional commitments. There will most certainly be turnover again this offseason with the need to upgrade the talent and skill within the program.
There will be tough decisions for Krystkowiak and his staff to decide who stays and who goes. It's all part of the rebuilding process.
I don't know how much better things will be next season, but I do know that they will be better. After spending nearly a full season around this staff I feel confident that Utah basketball is in good hands moving forward and that better days aren't too far away.
Bill Riley can be heard as the voice of the University of Utah on gamedays and also on weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on the "Bill Riley Show" on ESPN Radio 700 AM.
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