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University of Utah Utah women's basketball coach Lynne Roberts during practice at the huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019.

Utah athletics add new athletes to men's, women's and gymnastics roster on National Signing Day

By Josh Furlong, KSL.com | Posted - Nov. 11, 2020 at 12:00 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — It's National Signing Day for all Division I sports outside of football, and Utah athletics added several new athletes to its respective rosters Wednesday.

Each athlete signed a National Letter of Intent to declare their commitment to the program during the initial signing period, though more athletes can be signed through Nov. 18 for basketball during its early signing period (the regular signing period begins April 14, 2021 and goes through May 19, 2021). All other sports have through Aug. 1, 2021, to sign additional athletes.

Here's a look at all the athletes that signed Wednesday.

Men's Basketball

The men's basketball team added 6-foot-6 guard Lazar Stefanovic from Serbia. The European guard has experience playing in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and helped Partizan U18 to a championship in the Adidas Next Generation Tournament, where he averaged 15.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.

"We're excited to have Lazar join us next season," head coach Larry Krystkowiak said in a statement. "Lazar is a tremendous player with high-character and an elite student, so it's a great fit both for him and our program. His experience playing in some of the top leagues in Europe and FIBA will be a tremendous boost and brings maturity to both ends of the floor."

Stefanovic comes into the program as a shooting guard and will add more depth to Utah's class of guards. The men's basketball team signed one of its best recruiting last season with four-star guard Ian Martinez highlight the class.

Women's Basketball

The women's basketball team added a pair of players, a guard and a forward, from Minnesota to its roster Wednesday. The team adds 6-foot-2 forward Jenna Johnson from Medina, Minnesota, and 5-foot-11 guard Gianna Kneepkens from Duluth, Minnesota.

"Jenna and Gianna are awesome additions to our Utah family," head coach Lynne Roberts said in a statement. "They are incredible students from incredible families who can really make their presence known on the court. They are total 'fits' to our program – long, athletic, tough, competitive, and versatile players who can score. Ute fans are going to love them."

Johnson is a four-star athlete ranked No. 42 overall in the country, according to ESPN. She averaged 22.8 points and 8.0 rebounds per game last year for Wayzata High en route to being ranked the seventh-best forward nationally, according to ESPN.

"Jenna is a versatile forward who will be a matchup problem for other teams. She is very good around the basket but can also really shoot the three," Roberts said. "She loves the game, has a really high IQ out there, and she is a player that I could see becoming a coach someday."

Kneepkens is a two-time all-state guard from her time at Duluth Marshall High, where she averaged 31.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, 5.8 steals and 4.6 assists per game last season. She's also was a two-time all-state soccer player.

"Gianna is a long guard with a tremendous feel for the game and she has great instincts on both ends of the floor," Roberts said. "She can score off the dribble, is a fantastic shooter, and can really rebound."

Gymnastics

The always dominant gymnastics program added two Team USA Olympic hopefuls to its roster, providing instant talent to an already loaded group. The program welcomes Kara Eaker and Grace McCallum, who have combined for four gold medals as teammates for Team USA at the World Championships. The pair joined Utah's MyKayla Skinner in competition.

"Kara and Grace's accolades speak for themselves," head coach Tom Farden said in a statement. "They are some of the most accomplished gymnasts in the U.S. and are both legitimate contenders for the 2020 Olympics next summer. This is one of the finest recruiting classes in the country and history of our storied program."

Eaker joins the program from Grain Valley, Missouri, where she was a two-time U.S. Senior National Team member and member of the U.S. Junior National Team. She won two gold medals at the World Championships in 2018 and 2019.

"Kara's gymnastics has impeccable precision and a mesmerizing flow that our fans will love," Farden said. "Her signature event is balance beam where she has been a multiple World finalist. We are thrilled for her to be joining our Red Rock family."

McCallum comes from Isanti, Minnesota, where she was a member of the U.S. Senior National Team. She, too, won two gold medals at the World Championships in 2018 and 2019.

"Grace has the perfect balance of power and artistry," Farden said. "She is a world-class athlete and her signature is that she is a pure all-around gymnast ready to dazzle on all four events! We are elated to have Grace join our program."

Josh Furlong

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