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Both Gach Credits Coach Smith, Slocum For Return To Utah Basketball

Colorado Buffaloes guard McKinley Wright IV (25) is charged with a foul as Utah Utes guard Both Gach (11) shoots for three in the final second of overtime with the Buffaloes up by one point at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 7, 2020. Gach sank all three free-throws, giving the Utes a 74-72 win. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah basketball guard Both Gach credited head coach Craig Smith and assistant coach DeMarlo Slocum for his return to the Runnin’ Utes.

Both Gach is back with the Utah basketball program after spending one season closer to home with the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

The Crimson Corner caught up with Gach to discuss his return, the departure of Larry Krystkowiak, the recruiting process and playing for the new coaching staff.

You can listen to the full interview with Both Gach on the Crimson Corner podcast below.

What Led To Both Gach Returning To Runnin’ Utes Program

After one season at Minnesota, Gach went back in to the transfer portal. He left because the Golden Gophers parted ways with head coach Richard Pitino, who Gach had a great relationship with.

“It was the coaching change,” Gach told KSL Sports. “Ben Johnson, who’s there right now, amazing guy on off the court, he’s got a really great coaching staff as well. Richard Pitino and his coaching staff recruited me to come to Minnesota and I knew some of the guys previously from high school. I built a relationship with him (Pitino) over time. I just felt like for my last year, I just wanted to be somewhere where I kind of knew what coaching staff that was familiar with my game and had a vision for that.”

When Gach went into the portal, it wasn’t a lock for Utah to get Gach. Craig Smith and his staff had to put in work to recruit him back to Salt Lake City.

“It took some work,” Gach mentioned. “I had a few Pac-12 schools reached out to me that were highly interested. Obviously, Utah comes in, DeMarlo (Slocum), who was here my freshman year, we got a really good relationship that we build over time. He’s always there for me. So we built the relationship and just having him on this coaching staff and having Coach Smith who’s tried to recruit me at least three or four times made it easier to end the process.”

Expectations Of Utah Basketball This Season

With Craig Smith entering his first season as the head coach of the Runnin’ Utes and with so many departures from last year’s team and the additions of veteran pieces via the transfer portal, Gach expects this team to work hard and have fun.

“Just look for a Runnin’ Utes team that’s gonna have fun every night,” Gach mentioned. “We’re all gonna go out there and have fun. Basketball is all about having fun. Our job is to win games and entertain the fans and just have fun out there. So that’s one thing we’re trying to bring out to the fans. Just have fun play hard and just try to win.”

Gach didn’t expect to return to Utah after leaving two years ago.

“I didn’t,” Gach said. “You can never tell what the future holds but I’m back here and I’m happy to be back here. Feels good.”

Why Both Gach Left Utah Two Years Ago

After the 2019-20 season, Gach decided to enter the transfer portal which was a bit of a shock to the media and fans in Salt Lake City at the time. Gach hasn’t really talked about his departure after that season until now.

“It was all about family situations,” Gach stated. “I had a bunch of family stuff going on with my mother at the time, she was going through a bunch of surgeries and things like that for her back. For me, it was all about being closer to family, see my family as well. During the pandemic, I had a few family members that got hit with Coronavirus and things like that and weren’t doing too well. I just wanted to be closer. Previously when I was here at Utah, I barely got the chance to see them. I was seeing them once a year. So for me, I thought I had an opportunity to be closer to home and I did get to see them a lot more. It was a good thing.”

Despite what many thought that Larry Krystkowiak was the reason Gach left two years ago, it’s simply not true. Gach was asked about his reaction to Krystkowiak being let go by the Utes.

“It always sucks to see a coach lose a job like that, just because they have family and stuff like that,” Gach stated. “When coach first came here, the records weren’t as good as they were when he built it up. So he kind of built up this program to what it was. Utah, I’ll say is one of the programs that people say is a really good program in the Pac-12. I just feel like he built the foundation around here, just to make sure Utah is at the place that it is right now. He’s a really good guy that I enjoyed being around. I know there’s a lot of people that are twisting things up and things like that in the media.”

Gach and the Utes will begin their season in November.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.