The BYU, Utah, Utah State and Weber State basketball programs all received significant reinforcements Wednesday as recruits sent in their national letters of intent.
The Cougars signed five promising prospects, the Utes three, the Aggies one and Weber State four on the first day of November's weeklong signing period.
BYU coach Dave Rose and his staff were expecting four letters to be faxed in, but received a pleasant surprise early in the day from Payton Dastrup, a four-star center prospect from Mesa, Ariz., who announced his commitment to Ohio State last week.
On signing day, Dastrup opted to instead sign with BYU.
“Payton has a very special gift of size and skill,” Rose said. “He can score with his back to the basket, and can stretch the defense to the 3-point line. He is a great passer in the post and can put pressure on defenses in so many ways.”
Dastrup is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has plans to serve a mission before enrolling.
BYU also inked Lone Peak standout TJ Haws (6 foot 4), the younger brother of current Cougar star Tyler Haws.
“TJ has enjoyed great success at Lone Peak,” Rose said. “He has the ability to score in so many ways and is relentless in his approach. TJ is a winner in every way. He is very competitive on both ends of the floor. He comes ready to play in our attacking offense, and will be perfect for us.”
Haws also has plans to serve a mission before enrolling.
Joining Haws on the guard line is swingman Jake Toolson (6 foot 5) from Gilbert, Ariz.
“We love Jake’s game,” Rose said. “He has a great basketball IQ and helps his team win in so many ways. He is a great shooter, can drive the ball, is a very good rebounder and really understands the game. He’s a natural fit for us.”
Toolson plans on serving an LDS church mission before enrolling.
Frontcourt additions, along with Dastrup, include a couple of Utah County standouts in Orem's Dalton Nixon (6 foot 8) and American Fork's Ryan Andrus (6 foot 10).
Nixon is the son of former BYU standout Kevin Nixon.
“We’re very excited about Dalton,” Rose said. “He has a great feel and understanding for the game. Dalton has the ability to score in a variety of ways, is a strong rebounder, and brings toughness and a great physical presence.”
Nixon plans to leave straight for an LDS mission before enrolling.
As for Andrus, he plans on playing a year before leaving for his mission service.
“Ryan is a complete post player,” Rose said. “He can score with his back to the basket, runs the floor very well and is an excellent defender and rebounder. He’ll be a great fit in our system.”
Utah's class is headlined by local standout Brekkott Chapman, who stars for Roy High School. Chapman is a 6-foot-9 forward who was listed as the No. 12 forward prospect nationally by ESPN.
"It’s just the way I feel when I’m at (Utah)," Chapman said of his decision to sign with the Runnin' Utes. "It’s a feeling I haven’t had on any other campus I’ve visited. That’s a huge thing to me. Coach (Larry) Krystkowiak has been dedicated to me. That was a big part of it. It shows that they were dedicated to me and that I was the guy they wanted."
Chapman is joined by 6-foot-9 swingman Kyle Kuzma, who is originally from Burton, Mich., and 6-foot-2 guard Isaiah Wright from Boise.
“I am thrilled to have these three young men join our program,” Krystkowiak said. “They each epitomize what we search for in a student-athlete. They are tremendous young men with excellent skill sets, great work ethic and high character. This is a great day for Utah basketball.”
Utah State signed Bountiful guard Sam Merrill (6 foot 4), who will serve an LDS mission before enrolling.
“Sam is an old-school guard and to me, that is a big compliment. He does everything you want a guard to do. He is a great passer, an outstanding shooter and an excellent ballhandler,” Utah State coach Stew Morrill said. “He is tough and physical, and that shines through on the defensive end. Just like David Collette, he is a Utah kid that will take great pride in playing at Utah State.”
Weber State added the services of Zach Braxton (6 foot 9) from Highlands Ranch, Colo.; Hayden Hunter (5 foot 11) from North Richland, Texas; Jeremiah Jefferson (6 foot 2) from Dallas; and Ryan Richardson (6 foot 4) from Mesa, Ariz.
“As a group we feel really good about each one of these kids, not only because of their basketball abilities but because of the type of people they are and the high character they have,” said Weber coach Randy Rahe. “We really feel that all four of them fit our program and our culture very, very well and that will allow them to be extremely successful in our program. All four are also good students and come from excellent families with great values"