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Utah basketball: Runnin' Utes hosting two major recruits for Cal game, including five-star Emmanuel Akot

Published March 1, 2017 1:25 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

It's a more important week than most in Utah basketball — and not because the Runnin' Utes are trying to supplant Cal as the No. 4 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament.

Utah's future could be tied into a key recruiting battle for Emmanuel Akot, a 2018 five-star prospect who is a standout for Wasatch Academy and Exum Elite.

He's beginning his visit Wednesday.

Akot's star has risen rapidly in the last year, as he became a top-20 recruit in the class. He's averaging 16.5 points per game as a 6-foot-6 wing with relentless drive, great ball-handling ability for his size and gifted athleticism.

A native of Canada, Akot has been recruited by Utah since he arrived in the state. It's believed that he is deciding between the Utes and Arizona, where he visited last week. Although he's only a junior, he could make a decision soon.

If Akot picks Utah, it would easily be the biggest recruiting win of Larry Krystkowiak's tenure. The Utes believe Akot is versatile enough to play any backcourt spot. While he was said to have been wowed by his visit to Tucson last weekend, the Utes are hoping to close strong.

Utah is also hosting another player who arrives Thursday: 6-foot-11 center Jacob Epperson, who is in the class of 2017.

Epperson is an Australian native who attends La Lumiere School in Indiana. ESPN, Rivals and 247 Sports all rank him as a four-star talent, and one of his best attributes is his shot-blocking (which Krystkowiak identified as a weakness in this year's team). Various scouting services rank Creighton and Toledo among the schools for Utah to beat. You can view some of his highlights here.

Both Akot and Epperson will take in the Cal game on Thursday night, which has big implications for the Utes. They'll wrap up their visits on Friday.

Utah already has three committed prospects in the class of 2017, but only one will attend next fall: Four-star forward Donnie Tillman from Findlay Prep.

Mission-first signees Jaxon Brenchley and Branden Carlson are making noise in Utah's high school playoffs. Brenchley helped lead Ridgeline to the 3A title last weekend, scoring 31 points and falling just one assist shy of a triple-double in the final game. Carlson had a double-double in Bingham's first game, as the Miners look to repeat for the 5A state title.

Twitter: @kylegoon






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