A year ago, as nearly every day brought news of one of his Utah basketball teammates transferring, Chris Hines considered his own future. He consulted with teammates and coaches and family and friends back in Texas. Ultimately, he decided to stay and contribute to the rebuilding program.
"I just wanted to be a part of bringing it back up to where it needs to be," the guard said in February.
That ended Friday with the news that the junior guard is among a group of three players, two of them starters, who were granted their releases from the Utah basketball program and will transfer.
Freshman point guard Kareem Storey and sophomore forward Javon Dawson, as well as Hines, were released from their scholarships, The Salt Lake Tribune learned, bringing the total number of players to depart after Larry Krystkowiak's first season to four.
The attrition was expected. Krystkowiak signed more players (five) in the early signing period than he had scholarships available (two), and he and his staff are still actively recruiting additional players for next season. That could mean more players transferring in the coming days.
With Hines and Storey out of the picture, the Utes' recruiting focus will likely center on point guards and shooters.
Under NCAA rules, Hines will be eligible immediately at another Division I school because he will earn his degree in the spring.
Of the four players who have left the program freshman Anthony Odunsi was granted his release last week Hines comes as the biggest surprise. After starting the season on the bench, Hines started 26 games while battling through injuries. He was the team's second-leading scorer with 9.6 points per game and one of its best defenders.
Storey became the starting point guard 17 games into the season when senior Josh "Jiggy" Watkins was kicked off the team. He was sporadic, often making inelegant passes and creating more errors than offense.
However, he was adept at getting to the basket and became a fan favorite due to his hard-nosed style of play. He averaged 4.5 points and 3.1 assists per game.
Dawson, a 6-foot-6 transfer from Gulf Coast Community College, averaged 14.7 minutes, 3.1 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.