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Utah Utes basketball: Keith Van Horn excited for what Pac-12 can do for Ute sports

Published: Thursday, March 3 2011 12:29 a.m. MST

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — A familiar face sat in the stands behind the Utah bench Wednesday night at Moby Arena.

Former Ute star Keith Van Horn, who lives about 30 minutes west of Denver in Evergreen, made the trip — something he tries to do whenever his alma mater plays at Colorado State or Air Force.

"I really look forward to it," said Van Horn, who has resided in Colorado since retiring after a 10-year career in the NBA. "I love it and I wish I could do it more often."

Luckily, he added, the Utes will be playing Colorado in the Pac-12 next season.

The conference switch is something Van Horn is looking forward to.

"I think it's incredible for the school, the institution, as well as the athletics program," he said. "I think it's going to take our recruiting in all sports to another level.

"Instead of kind of having to depend on finding the kind of unknown talents and developing someone like Andre Miller or a guy like Mike Doleac, who Utah was his only scholarship, I think the Pac-12 now opens the doors to the top 10 recruits in the country now. I think you're able to recruit on that level and not just depend on sneaking some guys in."

While excited about the change, Van Horn notes it may be rough for the first couple of years.

"But with the amenities Utah has to offer, the quality of the school, the great people they have running the school, I think in short order we're going to be right up there with them in the Pac-12," he said.

Van Horn recently sold two businesses he started after finishing his pro career and is "kind of on his second retirement." He's coaching his 10-yer-old daughter's basketball team and has a seven-year-old girl who wants to play as well.

"So I'm going to spend some time doing that with them," said Van Horn, who also has two teenage children. "But my two younger daughters have a lot of height on them so, I don't know, maybe you'll see them in a Utah uniform one day."

e-mail: dirk@desnews.com

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