Mike Saunders Jr. Hits Transfer Portal After One Season With Utah
SALT LAKE CITY – After just one season with Utah, Mike Saunders Jr. is on the move again, hitting the NCAA Transfer Portal Monday morning.
Saunders Jr. officially joined the Utes last April after spending two seasons with the Cincinnati Bearcats where he showed promise, but never reached his full potential. The hope in coming to Utah was to see more growth and play time, but it never seemed to materialize for the guard in his one season with the Utes.
Saunders Jr. picked the Utes largely due to his familiarity with the state of Utah due to his time at Wasatch Academy. (Also where signee Keba Keita hails from.) Saunders Jr. was also reunited with Tim Morris on Utah’s staff after having him as an assistant coach his freshman year with the Bearcats.
We have our first offseason movement for the #RunninUtes as Mike Saunders Jr. has hit the NCAA Transfer Portal.
— Michelle Bodkin (@BodkinKSLsports) March 13, 2023
Mike Saunders Jr. At Utah
Saunders Jr. spent most of his one and only season with the Utes on the bench. He was called to duty the last few games of the season after Rollie Worster was out with injury, and particularly impressed against UCLA where he willed the team to a near-upset.
Saunders Jr. averaged 9.7 minutes of play in the 2022-23 season for the Utes contributing on average 4.1 points per game, one rebound, .8 assists, and .3 steals in 18 total games played. Against the Bruins, Saunders had 25 points in 24 minutes of play, three rebounds, two assists, one steal and two turnovers.
In transition @_Lazar_Stef ➡️ @JBrench23 ➡️ @icemikeg3 for the corner 3️⃣🔥
📲- https://t.co/DCN4Y4gtU6#goutes pic.twitter.com/hQZDu4iyKS
— Utah Basketball (@UtahMBB) February 26, 2023
It will be a big offseason for Craig Smith and crew as they are tasked with showing even more improvement in year three at the helm that will include making strides on the recruiting trail while maintaining key pieces of the roster from the season before.
From the outside looking in, Saunders Jr. seemed like someone the Utes would have ideally liked to keep and continue building the program around, but sometimes you don’t always get what you want.
Still, Utah has some nice pieces to work around in Keba Keita and Wilguens Jr. Exacte, along with the hope of Branden Carlson returning for a Super Senior year. Add in new recruits with the two open scholarships the Utes have that will hopefully help address some of the shooting and athleticism issues Utah ran into and further improvement in the 2023-24 season doesn’t seem like an unreasonable expectation.
Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @BodkinKSLsports
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