One day before games get underway in Phoenix for the Final Four, the University of Utah men’s basketball announced that freshman Devon Daniels and junior transfer JoJo Zamora are not returning to the program for the 2017-18 season.
Daniels’ announcement to leave comes almost unexpectedly though. The freshman was taken out of the starting lineup in Pac-12 play after he had showed up late to a team event and he was suspended for the final three games of the season for what head coach Larry Krystkowiak cited as conduct detrimental to the team. He returned to the rotation for the Pac-12 Tournament, but the Utes’ run in Las Vegas didn’t last long as they were ousted by Cal in the second round.
Daniels ended his freshman campaign by averaging 9.9 points per game.
Zamora’s decision to leave comes as more of a surprise. He started 17 games this season for the Utes and he regularly had a spot in the starting lineup late in the season. He did not, however, start in Utah’s postseason game in the first round of the NIT against Boise State. Zamora averaged 6.9 points on the year.
Krystkowiak issued a statement that read as if he didn’t think these two players necessarily fit the Utah Ute basketball player mold.
“There are certain responsibilities and expectations that are critical in being a member of our program,” Krystkowiak said. “We wish these young men the very best in their future endeavors.”
The latest transfer of both Daniels and Zamora could be somewhat of a concern though, because earlier this season Krystkowiak mentioned how players transferring can have a negative impact. Such as the case with Brekkott Chapman and Chris Reyes, both are former Utes who transferred at the end of the 2015-16 season and the program doesn’t go after guys who they don’t want to play, so the entire process can be a bit disheartening.
Daniels tweeted out a statement about how he talked through the decision with both his coaches and his family, and he ended up coming to the conclusion that leaving Utah would be his best option.
“This experience has done nothing but make me grow and I will continue to grow both on and off the court,” Daniels said via Twitter.