Mike Saunders Jr. Officially Signs With Utah Basketball

Apr 18, 2022, 4:44 PM

Mike Saunders Jr. - Cincinnati...

Mike Saunders Jr. #3 of the Cincinnati Bearcats takes a defensive stance against the Houston Cougars in the first half of the American Athletic Conference Mens Basketball Tournament Quarterfinals at Dickies Arena on March 11, 2022 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY-ย Mike Saunders Jr. put pen to paper this afternoon, making it official with the Runnin’ Utes. Craig Smith has been very busy in his second off-season with the Utes in an attempt to bring Utah basketball back to glory. Signing Saunders Jr. from the NCAA transfer portal from Cincinnati is just one key move of many.

What Saunders Brings

The 6′, 165 pound point guard brings a good blend of speed, power, and skill while bringing physicality to both ends of the floor according to a statement made by coach Smith this afternoon.

Saunders Jr. has some familiarity with the state of Utah from his time at Wasatch Academy. (Also where signee Keba Keita hails from.) Saunders Jr. will also find familiarity with Tim Morris on the Utah staff after having his as an assistant coach his freshman year with the Bearcats.

Last season at Cincinnati, Saunders Jr. averaged 7.3 points per game while playing in all 33 of UC’s games. Against #14 Illinois this year, Saunders Jr. posted a career high 20-point night.

In Saunders Jr.’s freshman year he was responsible for 3.5 points per game, 1.4 rebounds, and 1.4 assists while starting in 10 games out of 22 played.

More New Faces

Saunders Jr. will not be the only new face for the Utes in 2022-’23. He will be joined by freshmen signees Wiguens Exacte Jr. and Keba Keita in an effort to turn a once proud basketball program around.

It was also announced last week that former Ute turned assistant coach, Chris Burgess will be returning to Utah on the coaching staff. Prior to the announcement last week, Burgess had been with BYU under head coach Mark Pope since 2019.

Not Done Yet

The Runnin’ Utes still have a few more holes to figure out in their roster, though it is yet to be determined exactly who else will be on board with Smith’s year-two program rebuild.

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Mike Saunders Jr. Officially Signs With Utah Basketball