BYU fans unsure about the caliber of player the Cougars are getting in Utah transfer Josh Sharp may be pleased to hear what the redshirt freshman's former coach had to say about him.
Ex-Utah coach Jim Boylen raved about the toughness, versatility and athleticism of Sharp, an unheralded 6-foot-7 forward who signed with the Utes in 2008. Sharp sat out a year and then went on a two-year LDS mission to Houston, opting to transfer to rival BYU upon his return this week in part because Utah fired Boylen earlier this spring.
"I'm saying this humbly, but he was poorly evaluated coming out of high school," Boylen said by phone Wednesday night. "I thought he was a high-major guy like J.J. O'Brien. He's one of the best guys we recruited in the four years I was there. We had him penciled in as a starter coming back. Again penciled in, but he was a guy who was going to compete for a position."
Sharp will be eligible next season at BYU since he has spent two years away from basketball, potentially a coup for a Cougars program that must replace stars Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery. It's also yet another blow for Utah, which has now seen eight players transfer since Larry Krystkowiak replaced Boylen two months ago.
Krystkowiak clearly thought as highly of Sharp as Boylen did since he made it clear he wanted to keep the redshirt freshman at Utah.
Utah initially granted him a conditional release that would not allow him to transfer to either an in-state program or a Pac-12 school before realizing Sharp was free to go wherever he wanted since he hadn't signed a financial aid agreement. Then Krystkowiak released a statement Friday condemning an unnamed program for violating "an unwritten rule" and creating "an atmosphere of ill will" by recruiting Sharp during his two-year LDS mission.
"We want Josh to be a part of our program and are disappointed that rival schools can take advantage of a loophole in the system should they choose," Krystkowiak said last week.
Utah and BYU will no longer be league rivals starting next season, but it's clear the longstanding enmity between the Beehive State's most prominent schools won't fade anytime soon. If Sharp becomes a key contributor at BYU, it will be just the latest juicy storyline in a rivalry that always seems to be rife with them.