How Important Is Both Gach's Return To Utah Basketball?

Craig Smith may have already secured his biggest victory of the season when he was able to convince Both Gach to return to the Runnin' Utes. Moving forward though, how important is Gach's return to the hill and will he have the impact fans and Smith are hoping for?
Publish date:

Almost a year ago to the day, it was made public that former Utah guard Both Gach would not be entering the NBA Draft and returning to college basketball. 

Unfortunately for Ute fans everywhere, his return to college basketball didn't signify he was coming back to the mountains — but rather heading closer to home to suit up for Minnesota. 

It was a tough loss for Utah, and only became more apparent as the season went on. Gach's ability to lock down guards, push the ball in transition and finish at the rim were glaring holes in Utah's repertoire this past season.

But fate intertwined when Utah parted ways with head coach Larry Krystkowiak and brought in former Utah State head coach Craig Smith, widely viewed as a star in the making.

Combining Smith's hire and the offense he intends to bring to the Runnin' Utes with Gach's departure from Minnesota made for a perfect pairing. 

Smith wants a guard who can control the tempo and know when to push the ball in transition, especially someone who can finish at the rim. These are all traits that Gach excels in and what makes him special. His ability to not only break down defenses but find the open man on a consistent basis make him the most intriguing player for Smith moving forward.

Combining Gach's veteran experience with natural skillset, Smith has someone who he can build the offense around. Add in the sharpshooting of David Jenkins Jr. (UNLV) and defense of Rollie Worster (Utah State) and Smith has a trio of guards that should be able to compete with anyone in the Pac-12. 

Gach returns to Utah after where he averaged 6.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists for Minnesota, starting in 16 of the Golden Gophers 29 games.

There were certain points two years ago at Utah where he looked like an all-conference performer. He started 25 games as a sophomore, averaging 10.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 30.4 minutes of action. He was also named the Pac-12 player of the week at the end of the conference season when he scored a career-high 28 points in leading the Utes to an upset victory over Colorado in the regular season finale.

Overall at Utah, he played in 57 games with 39 starts, averaging 9.1 points, 2.5 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game.

If Smith can find a way to let Gach loose while also containing his turnovers, he could be a very special talent for Utah. 

Feb 29, 2020; Berkeley, California, USA; Utah Utes guard Both Gach (11) during the second half against the California Golden Bears at Haas Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Cody Glenn-USA TODAY Sports

Be sure to like us on social media for future coverage: Twitter — @UtahUtes_SI and Ryan Kostecka at @Ryan_Kostecka