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Utes' Rylan Jones returns home, transfers to Utah State

Utah Utes guard Rylan Jones (15) celebrates as Utah and BYU play an NCAA basketball game at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. Utah won 102-95 in overtime.

(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — Count one starting point guard among the exodus from the University of Utah men's basketball program.

Utah sophomore Rylan Jones has entered the transfer portal, as first reported by Verbal Commits, and is on his way to in-state rival Utah State, as first reported by 1280 The Zone's Jake Hatch and the Aggies' student newspaper Friday, May 7. Shortly thereafter, Jones — who went through at least one offseason workout with new Utah coach Craig Smith — was removed from the university's online roster.

Jones announced his decision to play for Utah State Monday afternoon in a tweet where he thanked Utah for his two years and added that he was "coming home" to Utah State. The school confirmed his transfer roughly two weeks later on Friday, May 28 by announcing his enrollment.

"We are excited to welcome Rylan back home," first-year Aggies head coach Ryan Odom said. "He fell in love with basketball and of course the Aggies during his family's time in Logan. Rylan made an immediate impact in the PAC-12 and his basketball IQ, ability to make others better and his overall competitiveness will be tremendous for our team. I know that he is excited to get to work with his teammates here at Utah State."

The 6-foot, 178-pound sophomore from Holiday was a four-star recruit in high school, when he led Olympus to an unblemished 27-0 record and the Class 5A state championship in 2017-18. Named Utah's Mr. Basketball by the Deseret News and the Gatorade Utah player of the year, Jones enrolled at Utah where his father was an assistant coach and broke out to average 9.6 points, 4.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game with a 1.6 assist-to-turnover ratio in 28 games as a freshman — all starts.

He scored a career-high 25 points in a come-from-behind overtime victory against BYU on Dec. 4, and earned Pac-12 freshman of the week honors after dropping 24 points against Washington State to help sweep the Washington schools at home that season.

But Jones' career hit a snag as a sophomore, when he missed eight games with a significant shoulder injury and start just 15 of 17 available contests. Jones averaged just 4.4 points, 1.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game, in large part due to the injury, and netted a season-high 12 points twice in wins against Idaho State and Utah Valley.

In his final appearance for the Runnin' Utes, who fired head coach Larry Krystkowiak following the season and replaced him with Smith, Jones played just two minutes in a 71-61 win over USC on Feb. 27. He made just one shot in his final four games as he struggled to come back from the injury.

This won't be the first time Jones has made it to Cache Valley. His father Chris, who was in his fifth season as director of operations at Utah before being released with the new coaching staff, spent eight seasons as an assistant coach at Utah State. The elder Jones' coaching career took him from his alma mater Utah to London, where he was the head coach of the Wurthing Bears from 1998-99 and spent three seasons at Champions Athletic Academy before returning to the Wasatch Front at Westminster College in 2003.

Rylan Jones played his freshman season at Logan High, where he was a first-team all-state selection, before his family moved to Holladay with his father's new job that allowed his son to finish high school at Olympus.

Contributing: Josh Furlong,

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