LOS ANGELES — Utah’s visit to Pauley Pavilion was extra special for senior forward David Collette. His one and only game in UCLA’s famed arena had family ties.
“My dad actually grew up a big UCLA fan, grew up around the area and growing up it was his dream for me to go play at UCLA. His dream, not mine,” Collette said as the Utes prepared for Thursday night’s game. “But I think as a result of that I really kind of grew up liking UCLA and followed them a little bit. So to be able to go play there I’m really excited to go play in that pavilion. My dad will be there. It will be a fun experience to finally be able to play there.”
KUZ PAYS A VISIT: Former Runnin’ Ute Kyle Kuzma stopped by Utah’s team hotel Wednesday night to visit with the guys and joined them for dinner. Kuzma wasn’t able to attend the game because the NBA rookie and his Los Angeles Lakers teammates were playing the San Antonio Spurs across town at the Staples Center.
GOING HOME: The Los Angeles area has proven to be a prime recruiting area for the Utes over the years. As such, homecomings are a big deal.
“It’s important. There’s no doubt about it,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “It’s fun for guys to be able to go home. It’s definitely a business trip and I think we all know there’s some fringe benefits of getting some of our guys back there.”
Krystkowiak noted that there’s an awful lot of players in California and the UCLAs and USCs can only sign so many guys. Some who may not be so highly touted, thus, want to come back to the area and play well.
“It is a special thing,” Krystkowiak acknowledged before the trip.
The Utes have three players from Southern California on their active roster — Sedrick Barefield (Corona), Justin Bibbins (Carson) and Jayce Johnson (Mission Viejo).