"If you look at the best teams here at Utah over the years, they've always had a portion of their team that have been missionary kids," Krystkowiak said. "I think there's a toughness to a lot of the kids and a maturity level."
And that, he added, can be a great advantage in college basketball.
"We want to find good basketball players that are good people that fit into our program," Krystkowiak said. "If they are interested in going on a mission, then we are 100 percent supportive of them doing that. There's no different mindset here."
Krystkowiak really likes the two current missionaries already in the program — Sharp, a 6-foot-7, 185-pound small forward from Lone Peak High, and Jeremy Olsen, a 6-foot-10, 235-pound forward from Lawrenceville, Ga.
After watching practice film of both players, who redshirted before leaving on their missions, Krystkowiak is eager for their return. Sharp is due back for 2011-12 and Olsen for 2012-13.
This is the place
Aside from Sharp, the Utes' roster this fall is void of local players on scholarship.
It's a situation that Krystkowiak is well aware of and is anxious to fix. The first thing he did when the recruiting period opened up was to watch several in-state guys play and let them know that the Utes were interested in them. West Jordan's Jordan Loveridge is reportedly among the top targets.
"It's probably one of the top priorities that we have," said Krystkowiak, who noted that there are good players in the state and he'd like to recruit them all. "It's a building stage for us, the initial stages. There's going to be people."
Many recruits, however, are kind of taking a wait-and-see approach. They know Utah's program is down, wounded and the jury is still out.
"But, I guarantee you, with the staff we have and everything else in place around here, we're going to do it the right way," Krystkowiak said. "At the end of the day, it's going to be OK. Right now, I can see where there's some hesitancy with some guys."
That, he vows, will change.
"We're just at the beginning stages of building something special, and when we have something special built in the Pac-12 Conference — where all of our games are on TV and half our league is going to the NCAA Tournament — then I think we'll have the opportunity to have a product that may lead us to have a better chance to get some of those kids," Krystkowiak said.
In the meantime, the new coach and his staff are working hard to make it happen.
"Like my doctor used to say with all my knee surgeries," Krystkowiak concluded. "If it doesn't kill you, it'll just make you stronger."
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