It's October, which means basketball must be right around the corner. Well, college basketball anyway.

College basketball officially opens Oct. 17 . . . at least that's the day that coaches and players are officially allowed to start practice by the NCAA.Most people have the idea that coaches and players can't even be in the same neighborhood until Oct. 17. But for a couple of years now, coaches have been allowed to coach players on a limited basis prior to mid-October.

The Utah coaches have been working out with each of their 11 players for 40 minutes a day, three days a week. Under NCAA rules, the coaching staff can work out with a maximum of three players at a time for two hours per week. All four Ute coaches are present at the workouts, although they prefer to work just two players at a time.

ALMOST: Some people close to the Ute basketball program got excited recently about the possibility of a top point guard from Kentucky enrolling at Utah in time for this season.

Anthony Grundy, a 6-1 point guard from Louisville, originally signed with Bradley two years ago, then decided to attend prep school. But he got out of his letter of intent and was recently shopping for a school as a sort of a free agent. He visited Utah the week of the Louisville footballgame and one Ute assistant coach confirmed that the U. was very interested in him. However, Grundy has decided not to attend Utah. He was also considering Minnesota, but is now reportedly looking at North Carolina State.

Some folks have wondered 1) how the Utes could have fit Grundy onto this year's roster and 2) how he could have enrolled in school this semester, considering it began almost a month ago.

First, the Utes could have used a scholarship on him because they have one open after Greg Barratt transferred to Utah Valley State College in Augsut. On the second point, students were allowed to add classes up until this week.

LOOKIN' GOOD: Coaches don't like to talk much about their prospects at this time of year. Especially new players. They prefer not to build up one player too much and have it go to his head or forget to mention another player and have the player lose confidence.

However, the word out of Ute workouts is that the three veteran players - Andre Miller, Hanno Mottola and Alex Jensen - are looking very good and that the two JC transfers - 6-6 Tony Harvey and 6-1 Jeremy Killion - are ahead of the freshmen.

Among the freshmen, Phil Cullen, a 6-10 center from Washington may challenge for a starting spot inside, along with 6-11 letterman Nate Althoff. The Utes were hurt by the loss of Shane Willis, the transfer from Hawaii, who was expected to back up Miller at point guard. Now it looks like freshman Ben Huesser will be the backup, although Adam Sharp, the 21-year-old freshman from Alta High, could play point as well as shooting guard. Sharp could challenge Harvey and Killion for the starting off-guard position.

UTE NOTES: In early rankings, the Utes are No. 9 in Fox Sports and No. 17 in The Sporting News . . . The annual Night With the Runnin' Utes will be Oct. 29 . . . The Utes will play two exhibition games Nov. 6 against the California All-Stars and Nov. 9 against a foreign team. The first official game is Nov. 14 against Azusa Pacific at the Huntsman Center. . . . The Utes meet Arizona State in the first round of the Maui Classic Nov. 23 in the game televised on ESPN. If the Utes keep winning, they would play on ESPN all three nights. . . .Coach Rick Majerus has been named to the Board of Governors for the Wooden Award, which is given yearly to the top college basketball player in the nation.