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Utah Utes basketball: Program adds pair to staff

BY DIRK facer deseret news

Published: Wednesday, June 13 2012 2:36 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak announced a pair of staff hirings on Wednesday, adding Runnin' Ute Phil Cullen and the program's first basketball-specific strength and conditioning coach to the mix.

Charles Stephenson will oversee the latter, while Cullen is the new director of player development and camps.

"Both Phil and Charles are top-notch professionals," Krystkowiak said in a released statement. "But more importantly they're great people."

Cullen, who played for the Utes from 1998-2002, returns to Utah after spending the past three seasons as an assistant coach at Grand Canyon University in Arizona.

"It's very exciting," Cullen said. "There's a lot of familiar faces here and a lot of great memories."

Cullen is looking forward to working in the Pac-12 and expressed a "tremendous amount of respect" for Krystkowiak and the other members of the Utah staff.

"There's going to be a learning curve for me," Cullen said. "But I'm excited to learn under guys with such experience."

Krystkowiak noted that Cullen is a good fit and added that it's exciting to get some more Utah blood back in the program. Cullen replaces Randy Baruth, who took the head coaching job at Saginaw Valley State.

Stephenson comes to Utah after serving as the men's basketball strength coach at Auburn (1994-96) and North Carolina State (1996-2011).

"It's an exciting time to be at the University of Utah," Stephenson said. "I'm fortunate and happy to be a part of it."

The feeling is mutual.

"Charles does a really nice job and he is very dialed in. He has a good plan for our guys and we have already witnessed it in the short time he has been with our staff," Krystkowiak said. "I think it will be very beneficial to have a dedicated strength coach who travels with us and works in conjunction with our coaches and training staff on a daily basis."

NOTES: It's camp season up on the hill. The Utes have 220 kids participating in this week's overnight camp and 115 squads enrolled in the team camp that begins Thursday. ... Cullen said space remains for the July 16-19 youth camp. Go to www.utahbasketballcamps.com for more information. ... Utah's non-conference schedule for 2012-13 is expected to be released soon. The Utes plan to host a three-day tournament over the week of Thanksgiving..

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer

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