Utah 7-footer Jakob Poeltl announces intention of leaving for NBA

SALT LAKE CITY — It didn’t come as a surprise to Jakob Poeltl’s coaches or teammates, and shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone else who has been paying even the slightest bit of attention to college basketball, but it is official, Poeltl is going to forego his last two years of college and enter the NBA draft.

“I’ve had the most amazing two years here at Utah,” Poeltl said at a press conference at the University of Utah Wednesday. “”I don’t regret anything about coming here and I do not regret staying for a second year. I think it was an unbelievable journey. I have really enjoyed it and that is why this decision was so hard on me, because I really wanted to stay for two more years, but I think this is a necessary step for me in my basketball career.”

Jakob Poeltl truly personifies the term student-athlete, as he has fully embraced the college experience. “The fans here in Utah have made every home game unbelievable, just the atmosphere in this arena is something I have never experienced before.”

Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak took the opportunity to explain the benefits of staying in college and playing for a second year instead of taking the one-and-done route that so many players are pursuing these days.

Jakob Poeltl, Utah vs. Cal, Pac-12 Tournament, Las Vegas, Nev., Mar. 11, 2015 | Photo courtesy Utah Athletics
Jakob Poeltl, Utah vs. Cal, Pac-12 Tournament, Las Vegas, Nev., Mar. 11, 2015 | Photo courtesy Utah Athletics

“A year ago we sat together, and it was maybe more of a decision to be made being projected to be a first round draft pick by just about everybody,” he said. “I think if you look at history, there are really very few, if any, examples of someone that is unanimous across the board with NBA teams saying that he is going to be a first round pick that decides to come back to college. It is just really, really rare. To me he’s the poster child for what it’s like to stick around for another year. I know he’s certainly far more ready today than he would have been a year ago.”

Does Krystkowiak think Poeltl made the right decision? Absolutely, both times (last year and this year).

“I know it’s the right decision,” Krystkowiak said. “I don’t know how much meat is left on the bone for Jakob in this college process.” Asked what he would do if he were in Poeltl’s position, Krystkowiak didn’t hesitate. “I would be doing exactly what he is doing. Things have changed since back in the day that I played.”

Utah sophomore Jakob Poeltl announced his decision to play in the NBA next season at a press conference Wednesday at the University of Utah. | Photo by Dwayne Vance, St. George News
Utah sophomore Jakob Poeltl announced his decision to play in the NBA next season at a press conference Wednesday at the University of Utah. | Photo by Dwayne Vance, St. George News

Similar to a proud parent whose child is leaving the nest, Krystkowiak conceded “It’s a bittersweet day.” But he further noted that Poeltl is “always going to be part of the cornerstone of what we’ve tried to build here.” And Krystkowiak knows a thing or two about building a program. Even with Poeltl leaving early, the cupboard is far from bare, and arguably next year’s team could be even better than this year.

Poeltl is a lock to be drafted in the first round, has the potential to be a lottery pick and will become the first Austrian to play in the NBA.

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

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