SALT LAKE CITY — When Josh Hearlihy signed a letter of intent with Utah in November, head coach Larry Krystkowiak said he "could be a real diamond in the rough for us."
Months later, however, the Utes apparently want a more polished gem. The Los Angeles Times confirmed that the 6-foot-7 senior from Harvard-Westlake High in North Hollywood, Calif., has been asked by Utah to nullify his scholarship agreement.
"I was very excited about going to Utah when I signed my letter of intent in November. However, the coaching staff has reconsidered their commitment to me and has asked to be released from their obligation," Hearlihy told the newspaper in a statement. "I turned down scholarship offers and stopped exploring other options when I signed."
The Times noted that Hearlihy could sign with another Division I program or attend a prep school this fall.
"Given the situation at Utah, I'm concerned about putting myself in an environment where I'm not wanted," Hearlihy said in his released remarks. "It is still my dream to play college basketball and I will continue to work hard every day to make that dream a reality."
After averaging 14.5 points and 5.4 rebounds as a junior on a team that went 29-5, Hearlihy was limited to 14 games as a senior because of what reporter Eric Sondheimer of the Times described as "non-surgical treatment for a condition related to growing too quickly."
Hearlihy, who did not play from Dec. 14 to Jan.28, wound up averaging 12.6 points and 4.4 rebounds last season. Harvard-Westlake finished 20-10 overall.
The decision to withdraw Hearlihy's scholarship reduces the Utes' November signing class to West Jordan star Jordan Loveridge (6-6, 225), Southern Utah transfer Dallin Bachynski (6-11, 230), returning LDS Church missionary Jeremy Olsen (6-10, 235) and Georgia high school product Justin Seymour (6-3, 195).
Point guard Brandon Taylor (5-11, 150) of Pacific Hills (Calif.) High is expected to join the mix with a signed letter today.
All of the new additions are expected to enroll at Utah in time to join the team on a planned foreign tour this summer — allowing the revamped roster the opportunity to play games and practice together before the fall.
The newcomers join a squad that has undergone a major overhaul for the second consecutive year.
Center Jason Washburn and swingman Cedric Martin are the only major contributors returning from the 2011-12 team that went 6-25 in Krystkowiak's first season at the helm and the program's first campaign in the Pac-12.
David Foster, a 7-foot-3 senior center who missed last season with a foot injury, is also planning to be back. The trio are joined by a pair of junior transfers — point guard Glen Dean (Eastern Washington) and shooting guard Aaron Dotson (LSU) who sat out last year as per NCAA rules.
Utah still has two scholarships available for 2012-13.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @DirkFacer