This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Jeremy Olsen's mind was ready for another season, his senior year with the Runnin' Utes.
But his hips which gave him pain, stiffness and discomfort throughout his college basketball career were not.
After consulting with his coaches, his doctor, his parents and his wife, the 24-year-old center made a decision a month ago to end his basketball career. While he had hoped to play one more year with the Utah men's basketball program, he sacrificed a final run to keep his body from breaking down.
"It's just something that's progressively gotten worse," Olsen said. "It's given me a lot of issues, and it's developing arthritis. This choice is tough, but it's what's best for me and my health. I'm just trying to postpone the decay, really, of my hip."
Olsen loses the chance to play, but will continue with the team as a graduate student in an as-yet undefined role while he works on his master's degree in accounting.
The Utes lose one of their centers, a 6-foot-10 rising senior who would've been a valuable role player behind starter Jakob Poeltl. Olsen didn't get off the bench much in the past year, but had occasional sparks on offense when called upon.
The Lawrenceville, Ga., native played 79 games over his three-year career. He only averaged 1.6 points and 1.4 rebounds in the most recent season, but was poised for a bigger role after Dallin Bachynski graduate this past year. His best season came in 2013-14, when he averaged 5.2 points and 2.7 rebounds a game while assuming a starting role.
Larry Krystkowiak has plenty of sympathy for Olsen's position. In his own pro career, Krystkowiak played a final year in France, pushing past knee pain to extend his time on the court. Now 50, Krystkowiak has replaced one of his knees and is scheduled to replace his other this offseason.
If he could take back that season overseas, he would. So he can't begrudge Olsen for making the decision he should have made years ago.
"This last year wasn't the easiest for Jeremy: He had a heck of a time even getting in a stance," Krystkowiak said. "At a certain point, you have to make a decision if you're just putting yourself in harm's way. He put a lot of time and effort into playing for our team last year, and it's super-unfortunate that he can't play for us."
With Olsen's retirement, the Utes freed up a scholarship and added Gillette College guard Lorenzo Bonam, who they hope can add scoring punch to the team's backcourt.
An Inkster, Mich., native, Bonam was a third-team All American for the Pronghorns last year while averaging 16.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. He also had 91 steals in his 35 contests, which makes Utah's coaching staff believe he can help fill the gaps left by All-American graduate Delon Wright.
The coaching staff wanted to address backcourt depth. Some of Utah's returning guards are still recovering from injuries: Kenneth Ogbe suffered a groin injury midseason, which Krystkowiak referred to as a "gray area," while incoming juco guard Gabe Bealer suffered a knee injury that kept him out of City College of San Francisco's season last year.
But Olsen's departure leaves big question marks among the bigs. Although incoming 6-foot-9 freshman Makol Mawien has a lot of potential, Krystkowiak said he's concerned about thrusting too much responsibility on him early by making him the No. 2 center behind Poeltl. The Utes may explore playing Chris Reyes at center at times, leaving Brekkott Chapman and Kyle Kuzma as the candidates for more time at power forward.
"It's not the perfect scenario," Krystkowiak acknowledged. "Those situations are hard to predict, especially when you have a freshman coming in. Hopefully some guys exceed expectations and are able to contribute."
Krystkowiak said he doesn't anticipate any more significant personnel moves before next season. In the season's exit meetings, no player expressed a desire to transfer.
Olsen was the last holdover from the Jim Boylen era, redshirting in the 2009-10 season before going on an LDS Church mission. Olsen said he had hip surgery originally right after his mission, which alleviated the pain temporarily before his body began to deteriorate. He played for Utah for three seasons of its resurgence, contributing most recently to the program's Sweet 16 run in March.
Olsen said he was grateful for the years he was able to play at Utah, which is where he happened to meet his wife, former Ute volleyball star Chelsey Schofield-Olsen.
"It was a great experience," Olsen said. "It was definitely one of our goals when I started to bring the program where it is now. I felt like we made some great progress, and I loved every minute of it."
Jeremy Olsen retires
• Played 79 games in three-year career
• Averaged 5.2 points, 2.7 rebounds as a sophomore
• Played with Pac-12 All-Star team in China in summer of 2014
Utes sign Lorenzo Bonam
• Third team All-American for Gillette College (Wyo.)
• Averaged 16.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.4 apg and shot 60.3 percent from the floor
• Native of Inkster, Mich., and was all-state at Robichaud High