A Historic Utah Basketball Career Will End In Historic Hinkle Fieldhouse

Apr 1, 2024, 11:18 AM | Updated: 5:15 pm

INIANAPOLIS – A historic Runnin’ Utes career will be coming to an end sometime this week and it will do so in historic Hinkle Fieldhouse as part of the NIT.

Branden Carlson has been a pillar of hope the last five seasons for a Utah basketball team full of its own history that has lost its way in recent years.

Over the past three years under head coach Craig Smith, the Utes have begun to look more like what fans expect. Much of that is thanks to Carlson’s willingness to stay and leave the program better than when he found it in an age when jumping to greener pastures is the more common move.

While it will likely be a few years before we can really gauge the significance of Carlson’s efforts to restore Utah basketball to what fans remember, it does feel appropriate he’s ending his career in a place that has withstood the test of time. 96 years and counting to be exact.


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Branden Carlson Discusses Ending His Career In A Historic Venue

Built in 1928 and originally named the Butler Fieldhouse until 1966 when it was changed to honor Butler University’s longtime coach and athletic director Paul D. “Tony” Hinkle, “Indiana’s Basketball Cathedral” has experienced many lives.

At the time of its construction, Hinkle Fieldhouse was considered state of the art. It was the largest basketball venue until 1950 and featured a design that allowed for unobstructed views of the court no matter which seat a fan occupied.

Today, Hinkle Fieldhouse is the sixth-oldest basketball arena still in use and can be found on the National Register of Historic Places while also being designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark.

For Carlson, the possibility of making some history in such a storied place feels like an appropriate ending to his career at Utah.

“Obviously, there’s a lot of talk of me finishing my last game in the Huntsman Center but it’s cool to know I’m finishing my whole college career in Hinkle Fieldhouse,” Carlson said. “It’s exciting. Hopefully it goes the way we want. I know we put in a lot of preparation to be here. So, excited to go out and play and make some memories out on this court.”


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Carlson and the Utes will need to get past a home crowd favorite in Indiana State on Tuesday night first, but the Utah legend says the process to get to the semifinal of the NIT has been an enjoyable one with his teammates.

“For me, I’m the only one up here that doesn’t have any more eligibility,” Carlson said. “Just being able to continue our season and play these games, and more time with these amazing friends, and brothers of mine, it’s been great. It’s been a good experience. We love playing basketball, and just being able to have more games, and more opportunities to play has been amazing.”


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One Unique Big Against Another

Perhaps the most intriguing matchup between Indiana State and the Utes involves their bigs- both of whom have been celebrated for their unique abilities for men their size.

Robbie Avila has been a sensation for the Sycamores averaging 17.3 points per game, 6.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and shooting at 53 percent from the field.

Carlson’s stat line reads similarly to Avila’s averaging 17 points per game, 6.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and shooting 50 percent from the field.


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The stat line that really stands out for both players, however?

Their ability to shoot the three, with Avila averaging 38.9 percent of his shots beyond the arch and Carlson averaging 37.6 percent.

“He’s a great player,” Carlson said. “I don’t think we have too many five-men in the Pac-12 that does what he does. He’s more of a stretch five, very skilled, can do a lot of different things. We’re going to have to be very prepared to guard him, and we’re excited to go out and face them.”

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 XInstagram, and Threads: @BodkinKSLsports

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A Historic Utah Basketball Career Will End In Historic Hinkle Fieldhouse