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In little more than a year since he took the job, Utah basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak has demonstrated that one of his top priorities wasn't as tough as his predecessors made it look.
When East High guard Parker Van Dyke, arguably the state's second-best player in the class of 2013, committed to the Utes on Monday, the leading scorer in Class 4A (24.7 points per game) became he second elite Utah player to commit to the Utes after West Jordan small forward Jordan Loveridge signed last November.
Van Dyke, who also had offers from Arizona State and Utah State, has started three years at East and last year led the Leopards beyond the first round of the state tournament for the first time since 2002. He grew up with courtside seats in the Huntsman Center, thanks to his grandfather's standing in the Crimson Club, and on Monday said he realized he wanted to play for the team he grew up cheering for.
Van Dyke plans to serve an LDS church mission after graduating from East, and will likely not join the Utes until 2015.
Of course, it's was still good news for Krystkowiak, who also has an oral commitment from '13 point guard Julian "JuJu" Jacobs, from Las Vegas.
"He was really excited and is happy now to coach me a little bit instead of recruit me," Van Dyke said.
Krystkowiak has found luck recruiting in-state players that recent predecessors, particularly Jim Boylen, did not. A frequent criticism of Boylen was that he never landed elite Utah talent before he was fired in 2011 and replaced by Krystkowiak.The Utes appear to have made inroads in the state they once owned.
"They've definitely done that," said Salt Lake Metro coach Dave Hammer, who coaches Van Dyke and is a former Utah assistant. "They got the best player in the state last year in Loveridge. Loveridge will be an impact player that will contribute all four years for them. and Parker will be the same."
Van Dyke told The Tribune's Kyle Goon that Loveridge's commitment was a factor in his decision.
"Jordan committing was definitely a big step for the program, and it shows that Utah is back as a place for in-state kids," Van Dyke said.