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If anything, Brekkott Chapman is a better player than he was a year ago.
He's bulking up, lifting to a routine for the first time in his career. He's been catching up to the pace in Utes' practice, and getting more acclimated to the college game.
But a big part of his first year has been dropping any Big Man on Campus status he had at Roy High, and forgetting how many stars recruiting websites attached to his name. He's been called a great prospect, a promising player, but here's the new label: freshman.
"I knew coming in I wasn't going to be the main guy like I was last year," Chapman said. "But I'm ready to do whatever it takes to get minutes, to help this team out and help this team win."
It's not an unusual story: Making the jump from prep to college, a high school star has to handle his ego and learn to play against and with athletes who have just as much talent or more. It is, however, a bit unusual for the Utes recently: The team has taken star recruits and made them into immediate contributors. Jordan Loveridge and Delon Wright were two such players.
This year, with a roster full of returners and as much talent as Larry Krystkowiak has ever had in the program, the recruits in one of the top classes Utah has signed recently are being humbled. Four-star guys will probably spend many minutes on the bench, and several gifted newcomers may get redshirts.
And Krystkowiak particularly seems to enjoy watching how his new guys handle the adversity. He said at the beginning of the week he wants to put them in situations where they "sweat and squirm."
"That's just a rite of passage, and it's kind of fun," he said after Friday's practice. "You have a lot of growth when there's a little bit of adversity. In high school, you're a good player, but I think there's a lot more in there for guys. Typically you have to be called out on it, and it's fun, because it makes them stronger."
Krystkowiak said he's been pleased with all of his freshmen and newcomers. judging them all to be roughly ahead of his expectations. But fall camp is a gradual process: The Utes build up their basic concepts, then keep adding new and more complex plays and schemes.
Mistakes come easily when everything moves twice as fast as the high school level. Even forward Chris Reyes, who started his career at St. Mary's, said he was blown back a little by the pace of the Pac-12 program.
"I've got to get used to the speed," he said. "These guys are a lot quicker [than junior college], and they just know a lot more."
The best thing any newcomer can do to get on Krystkowiak's good side is defend.
Isaiah Wright is one such player, who Krystkowiak said benefitted from good coaching in his prep days. Wright's playmaking and defense during his club days caught the eye of former Ute Andre Miller, who now texts the Idaho native "every once in a while" to see how he's doing.
But even a pat on the back from a Utes legend can't be enough Wright knows he has to sustain that effort.
"My coach in club really emphasized defense, getting the rotations on defense down," he said. "I gotta learn our defense, right now I'm getting a good feel."
Looking at the newcomers, several of them could contribute in ways beyond putting up points. Chapman was a strong rebounder and shot-blocker as a prep, and Austrian native Jakob Poeltl is said to be a natural at swatting shots with his lengthy reach. Reyes describes himself as a "banger" in the post, and Krystkowiak mentioned Kyle Kuzma's length and rebounding skills could get him on the floor.
But rein in expectations. The new Utes are learning to rein in theirs.
"All those guys it seems like every two or three days, they're taking a nice little jump," Krystkowiak said. "I expect a jump as they start to get confidence in what they're doing."
The latest scholarship additions for Utah basketball:
Brekkott Chapman, Fr., F • Averaged 19 ppg, 8.6 rpg as a senior at Roy High
Kyle Kuzma, Fr., F • Averaged 22 ppg, 7 rpg at Rise Academy; partial qualifier last year
Jakob Poeltl, Fr., F • Averaged 12.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 2.3 bpg for Arkadia Traiskirchen Lions
Chris Reyes, Soph., F • Averaged 18 ppg, 12 rpg at Citrus College; redshirted at St. Mary's
Isaiah Wright, Fr., G • Averaged 16.2 ppg, 6.9 apg as a senior at Borah High; Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year