Alfonso Plummer is the Runnin’ Utes Key to Victory

University+of+Utah+men%27s+basketball+player%2C+Alfonso+Plummer+%28%233%29%2C+advances+the+ball+down+the+court+in+the+game+against+the+Idaho+State+Bengals+on+Dec.+8%2C+2020+in+the+Jon+M.+Huntsman+Center+in+Salt+Lake+City.+%28Photo+by+Jack+Gambassi+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29

University of Utah men’s basketball player, Alfonso Plummer (#3), advances the ball down the court in the game against the Idaho State Bengals on Dec. 8, 2020 in the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Pearce, Assistant Sports Editor

 

Alfonso Plummer is the only senior on this year’s Utah men’s basketball team. As such, he has a unique role not only as a key player on the court, but perhaps the most important off of it. Utah has been a very young team for the past few years and having guys with experience around is invaluable for any young player. Freshmen coming in with no idea what’s going on to look to Plummer as a stabilizing force, a guy who’s been there before and someone to model their game after.

“He’s kind of a model of sticktoitiveness,” said head coach Larry Krystkowiak on Plummer. “I think he stays really upbeat. He’s been a daymaker for a lot of his teammates around him… it’s been a lot of fun to watch. I think our guys are really getting connected.”

Plummer was born in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. Prior to joining the Utes, he played collegiately at Arizona Western College for two seasons, where he averaged 18.6 points per game and led the team to a 25-9 record in his best season. From there, he transferred to Utah for the 2019-20 season, where he mostly came off the bench for Krystkowiak. Getting about 15 minutes per game, he averaged 8.4 points per game in a reserve role. 

He’s now starting for Utah and currently leads the team in scoring with 14.7 points per game and is up to 28.4 minutes per game. It’s a big jump to take in just one year, but Plummer has been working hard for it.

“It means a lot,” said Plummer. “I’ve been working out all summer, trying to get better at my game. Defensive, offensive, both sides of the court. I’m proud, you know? I’m proud of myself. I get a lot more of a chance, more time to help my team to win. I’m really proud of myself right now.”

Plummer has been studying film from established stars in the NBA to help him improve as he has worked his way into a starting role.

“I’m watching a lot of NBA. Stephen Curry, with his shooting skills, and James Harden with his lefty. I’m trying to study the NBA, and learn from the best.”

“He’s one of our higher-powered guys,” said Krystkowiak. “He’s got a knack for scoring, he plays with a lot of confidence… He’s important for us. I’ve gotta do a good job of trying to get him some shots, and he’s gotta do a good job of working to get open… Fons can be a good first option offensive weapon for us, but he can also be a weapon at the end of the shot clock.”

The breakout performance of his career came in the Pac-12 Tournament against Oregon State on Mar. 11, 2020. Looking back at that day, it was the day everything changed for many people here in the US, with the suspension of the NBA season following a positive COVID-19 test for Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert. It also led to the cancellation of the remainder of the Pac-12 Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. So, unexpectedly, this was the last game of the season for Plummer and the Utes. 

Plummer made the most of it, setting the Pac-12 tournament record and overall record for making three-pointers in a single game with 11. The previous tournament record was held by current Golden State Warriors guard and former Washington State Cougar Klay Thompson, with eight made threes.

“That was really a good experience for me,” said Plummer. “It was a good game for me… I was proud of myself at that time.”

As far as goals for the season, he wants to improve on his game and help take the Utes to the NCAA Tournament. 

“I want to help my team get to the tournament, get some dubs. We want to be one of the top 64 teams in the nation… I know we have the talent and team members to do it.”

It’s been a season like no other, as players have to deal with COVID testing and protocols changing their daily routine. 

“I wasn’t able to go back home and see my family (for Christmas)… It was kinda hard… watching my family having fun. It’s gonna be a better year next year, so we just gotta be patient.”

The NCAA made the decision to freeze the eligibility clock for winter athletes this season due to the pandemic. That decision gives Plummer, the lone senior on Utah’s roster, the chance to come back to the Utes next year. 

“I don’t know yet. Right now I’m focused on this year,” said Plummer. “I don’t know, probably next year I’m trying to go pro. If I got a chance to go pro and get a contract, I would go, but I don’t know yet, we’ll see.”

Either way, he’s already made a huge impact here at Utah. And as far as after graduation, he wants to stay involved with the sport one way or another.

“I wanna finish my Bachelor’s degree. I’m trying to be a sports agent. I want to be an international sports agent, trying to help Latinos and people of my race, trying to make their dreams come true.”

Wherever Plummer ends up, he’ll be a leader there, just as he has been for Utah this season. For now, he’s a key player for the Utes as they look to make it back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016.

 

[email protected]

@e_pearce_

@nbacourtsidetv