Red All Over: The Utah basketball opening has seen smoke, but no fire just yet

More than a week after Larry Krystkowiak was fired by the University of Utah, there is smoke, but no fire as the athletic department continues in search of its new basketball coach.

Eyes and attention at this point are on Alex Jensen, a Jazz assistant and former Utes standout forward during the height of the Rick Majerus era in the late-1990s.

From the time Krystkowiak was fired, multiple sources have told The Salt Lake Tribune that Jensen was pinpointed as a preferred candidate. Whether or not Jensen actually wants the position has been a topic of discussion throughout the week, but the widely-held belief at this point is that he is genuinely torn on what to do.

Jensen, a Jazz assistant since 2013, has interviewed for multiple NBA head coaching positions in the past and is still viewed as a future head coach at the next level. Taking a college head coaching position may alter that trajectory. On the other hand, the allure of returning to the University of Utah to coach his alma mater is likely strong, making the decision on what to do difficult.

Jensen was on the Jazz bench Wednesday evening as they blew out the Brooklyn Nets, 118-88.

In any case, a week into Utah’s coaching search, with nary another candidate even being mentioned in back channels at this point, the position is likely Jensen’s to turn down.

Meanwhile, Utah’s roster is in flux. Three players off last season’s team have opted for the NCAA Transfer Portal since March 15, the most-significant of the three coming on Tuesday when junior forward Riley Battin tossed his name in.

In this day and age of the transfer portal, offseason roster volatility is not uncommon, but a coaching search adds another dimension to it. Whoever the next Utes head coach is, he’s likely going to have to re-recruit some, maybe even all of the remaining roster.

With Battin opting for the transfer portal, Utah has four open scholarships for 2021-22. The status of the program’s lone 2021 recruit, Serbian shooting guard Lazar Stefanovic, is unknown. Stefanovic, who is playing professionally in Serbia this season with KK Partizan, signed his National Letter of Intent in November.

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