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SALT LAKE CITY - University of Utah head men's basketball coach Jim Boylen announced his first class of recruits Friday. The Runnin' Utes signed five student-athletes to National Letters-of-Intent during the early signing period, which began Wednesday.
Joining the Utah program are guard Jordan Cyphers (Wichita, Kan.), guard Chris Hines (Houston, Texas), forward Josh Sharp (Highland, Utah), guard Jace Tavita (Salt Lake City) and center Jason Washburn (Battle Creek, Mich.).
"This is arguably the No. 1 or No.2 recruiting class in the conference," Boylen said. "We got the two best players in the State of Utah. We got one of the top three players in Michigan. We have Mr. Basketball candidates from Utah, Michigan and Kansas.
"I want to give my staff a lot of credit," Boylen continued. "We hit the ground running in March. We had to re-recruit the 2007 class. Then we had to get our list and evaluations together and go out and recruit the 2008 class. We got five commitments from five quality kids; five competitive kids. When we talk about recruiting, we want to build around toughness, defense, running and shooting. All these kids really fit into that mold for us."
Utah's recruiting class is getting national attention as well. Dave Telep, National Recruiting Director for Scout.com, was complimentary of the Utes' class and coaching staff.
"You have to respect the work that went into this group," Telep said. "The staff did an excellent job of keeping the pool small and targeting players who can help them win the league, while keeping the Utah brand strong. This is a foundation class for a program intent on moving forward.
"Cyphers is a legit weapon behind the arc and an important pickup," Telep continued. "(Utah) beat the posse on Washburn. Since they were on him first, it paid off. He has post tools and upside."
The following is a look at each member of Utah's 2008 recruiting class:
Jordan Cyphers - 6-4, 175, G, Wichita, Kan. (Southeast HS)
Accolades/Statistics: Mr. Basketball candidate in the State of Kansas...Earned Kansas Class 6A Second-Team All-State honors as a junior in 2006-07...First-Team All-Metro last season...Averaged 16.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists per game as a junior last season.
Coach Boylen Says: "Jordan has two thing that we think are very important in recruiting, toughness and shooting ability. He also has good length. Jordan has a very competitive spirit as well. He's certainly one of the top five players in the state of Kansas. Jordan will add to our perimeter depth; he'll add to our shooting; he'll add to our length on the perimeter; and he'll add to our toughness. He's also a 3.7 student."
Chris Hines - 6-0, 170, G, Houston, Texas (Klein Forest HS)
Accolades/Statistics: Ranked as a Top 20 player in the State of Texas...Averaged 12 points and 4 assists per game as a junior...helped lead Klein Forest to a 29-8 mark and an 8th place finish in the state in 2006-07...played on a team with five other NCAA Division I signees...Was also recruited by Purdue and Virginia Tech.
Coach Boylen Says: "Chris is a tough-minded, physical guard who can play the one or two. He has the ability to get in the lane and create. He can also be a receiver, with the ability to catch and shoot. Chris has a big-time work ethic. He's a gym rat. He's also a tough kid and a good student. I think he has a chance to be a defensive stopper at this level. Chris will really help us continue to improve our defensive system."
Josh Sharp - 6-7, 185, F, Highland, Utah (Lone Peak HS)
Accolades/Statistics: Helped lead Lone Peak to 2007 State Championship...averaged 7 points and 6 rebounds per contest...shot 65 percent from the field and 75 percent from the line.
Coach Boylen Says: "I feel Josh is a guy that can be very versatile in our system. He can guard the one, two, three or four. Offensively, he can play the two, three or four. Josh has good length and is a very quick player. Josh's ability to run the floor will be a great asset for us. He also has an unbelievable competitive spirit. He definitely has a nose for the ball and an ability to get to the free-throw line. He's a 3.9 student and is also a gym rat. He comes from a terrific high school program at Lone Peak, under Coach Quincy Lewis."
Jace Tavita - 6-4, 180, G, Salt Lake City (Brighton HS)
Accolades/Statistics: Averaged 15 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds last season at Patterson Prep School in North Carolina...Tavita was also recruited by USC, Washington, Washington State, Oregon and BYU.
Coach Boylen Says: "We feel Jace is the best player in the State of Utah in the 2008 class. He's got great toughness, grit and competitiveness. Jace has a terrific ability to get into the paint and create. He's a push-the-ball type of guard, who will really add to our running game. He's another guy who gives us length on the perimeter. Jace comes from a very good in-state program, coached by Lindon Johnson at Brighton High School."
Jason Washburn - 6-11, 200, C, Battle Creek, Mich. (Center HS)
Accolades/Statistics: Ranked as the No. 86 player in the nation by Rivals.com...also ranked by Rivals.com as the best center prospect in the Mountain West Conference in this class...Averaged 17 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocked shots per game as a junior...Was also recruited by Penn State, LSU, Indiana and Minnesota.
Coach Boylen Says: "Jason has a great motor and enthusiasm for the game. He runs the floor and he blocks shots. He takes great pride in his defense. He's got a tough, attack-oriented defensive mindset. Offensively, he's got the potential to really develop. Jason has a great passion to compete."