BYU Transfer Gavin Baxter On Fresh Start At Utah
SALT LAKE CITY- It may be summer, but that doesn’t mean Utah Basketball isn’t working hard in preparation for the 2023 season. Summer conditioning is in full swing for the Runnin’ Utes and former BYU forward Gavin Baxter is looking forward to a fresh start with his new team.
Baxter says his decision to transfer from BYU was a fairly quick one and not something he ever pictured happening until it did. Making the move make even more sense was Chris Burgess taking the assistant coaching job at Utah after spending the past few seasons with Baxter and the Cougars.
“I think it was something that happened pretty quickly,” Baxter said. “I don’t think it was something I predicted however many months ago. It all kind of happened quick with Chris Burgess transferring up to Utah and then new ideas start formulating. I thought I could play one more year and head up north.”
Another aspect that played into Baxter’s decision to spend his final year of eligibility with the Utes was staying close to home. Both Baxter and his wife are from Utah so most of their family is here and the thought of being able to play in front of them one more year was enticing.
“A lot of it had to do with my family and my wife’s family being local here in Utah,” Baxter said. “We love Utah and we want to stay here just for this next year at least so it made sense to be close to family.”
Comfort With The Coaches
As mentioned before, Baxter found some comfort in following a former assistant coach from BYU to Utah, but d it goes deeper than that. Burgess, according to Baxter is a family man who would do anything for his kids, but also wants to win on a high collegiate level.
“Chris is just, he really is a family first guy honestly,” Baxter said. “He’s really involved with his kids and their sports. You can tell he really cares and wants them to succeed, but at the same time he is a basketball coach for the U. He wants us to win and get better. He’s really locked in and trying to develop players.”
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Same with head coach Smith. Baxter appreciates his vision for the program and how it can improve in Smith’s second year.
“I think coach Smith first and foremost is just a really genuine guy. He expects a lot out of his players. They had a down year last year, but it didn’t really phase him I don’t think. He’s just going to keep shooting for the stars in the upcoming season.”
As far as how things will work out for Baxter under Smith and Burgess, he’s just hopeful he will be able to really showcase what he’s capable of. A little snake bitten with injuries, Baxter hopes he can contribute as many minutes as possible with the Utes on the court, while also being a help to those around him.
“It’s to work up to playing as many minutes as I can and making whatever impact I can to help this time win,” Baxter said of his role with the 2023 Utes. ” That’s where I’m at, at this point.”
Getting To Know You
The 2023 Runnin’ Utes are in a unique position from the standpoint there really isn’t a big returning core from the season before. That means it is on everyone on the team to get to know each other, understand their similarities and differences while figuring out how that makes them a team.
“It’s interesting because you’ve got guys from all over the country,” Baxter said. “Mike Saunders from Cincinnati, Ben Carlson from Wisconsin and then guys from other places. It’s just a matter of taking our experiences and skills from other places and really coming together. Realizing that basketball is a team sport at the end of the day. We’ve got to keep that in mind as we train through the summer and remember to build each other up. We’re going to make mistakes, but that’s all part of it. We’ve got to get better.”
It’s still very early in the process, but Baxter feels good about how training has gone. End of the day, it’s all about getting to know each other and building a brotherhood on the court.
“Things are going really well,” Baxter said of the first week of training. “I think we’ve got new guys coming in and we’re starting to gel, getting to know each other- break that ice. Training has been tough, but everybody is hungry.”
Look Out For
As a “super senior” Baxter has been around basketball at a high level for a while. Asked who he thinks will have a breakout season for Utah in 2023, Baxter is high on returning center Branden Carlson.
“He has worked so hard to get where he is at,” Baxter said of his teammate. “He is just extremely skilled. He’s a great guy and a great leader and I am expecting big things from him.”
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