Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
Utah guard Sedrick Barefield, left, and forward David Collette try to strip the ball from UCLA Bruins forward TJ Leaf during game at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. As players who transferred into the Utes' program prior to the start of the 2016-17 season, both were forced to sit out the first part of last year's schedule until having completed fall semester.
Basketball is what we love and we’ve been waiting for this all summer. So for it to finally be here is really exciting. —Sedrick Barefield

SALT LAKE CITY — Unlike a year ago, Utah basketball players Sedrick Barefield and David Collette won’t have to wait until fall semester is complete to begin playing in games for the Utes. NCAA rules dictated so after Barefield (SMU) and Collette (Utah State) transferred into the program.

“That was new in a lot of ways. We ended up with a couple of guys that started for us that we didn’t have until halfway through,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, who noted there are very few sports where somebody joins you midway through the season based on eligibility. “So this is their first go-around where it should be start to finish without a break. I think you’ll see some growth and more consistency.”

Now veterans on a fairly young team, Barefield and Collette will be on the court Wednesday night when Utah hosts Montana Tech in an exhibition game at the Huntsman Center.

“It’s been a while. It feels like last season was two years ago. So it’s exciting to finally get started and just get out there with my teammates and try to win,” Barefield said. “Basketball is what we love and we’ve been waiting for this all summer. So for it to finally be here is really exciting.”

The Utes, who faced Saint Mary’s in a closed scrimmage in Salt Lake City on Oct. 21, are eager to continue playing other teams.

“It was so much fun being able to play that scrimmage and get out there a little bit early and see what we got,” Collette said. “I just feel like it was a lot of fun and good for us.”

As for Montana Tech, Collette acknowledged it will be good to play them, too.

“I can’t wait for that,” he said.

Utah returns 10 lettermen from last year’s squad that went 20-12 overall and participated in the NIT. The big voids are the loss of starters Kyle Kuzma and Lorenzo Bonam.

Newcomers include graduate transfer Justin Bibbins, a point guard from Long Beach State. He joined the Utes for their European tour during the summer (along with the other additions) and is optimistic about the upcoming campaign.

“This team is unique in a sense that we click really well off the court and I think guys will take different roles for the betterment of the team,” Bibbins said.

Krystkowiak also has positive vibes about the squad.

“I feel good about this group, I really do,” he explained. “I’ve said that it’s been a great group to coach, so far, and I don’t expect that we are going to have any difficulties in that regard.”

Bibbins, however, acknowledged that they’ve been beating up on each other in practice for a while now.

“So it’s going to be fun to finally take all that energy and put it on somebody else," he said.

Utah opens the regular season Nov. 10 at home against Prairie View A&M.

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