Utah basketball: why DeMarlo Slocum left UNLV to join Craig Smith’s team


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It wasn’t that long ago that the University of Utah’s men’s basketball program was one of the best in the West. The Runnin ‘Utes were ranked in the top 25 for most of the 2014-15 season and reached the Sweet 16 before falling to eventual National Champion Duke.

The following year, Utah kept that momentum going, qualified for the championship game of the Pac-12 tournament for the first time, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament before getting run over. by Gonzaga 82-59 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

DeMarlo Slocum helped build that success as an assistant to Larry Krystkowiak (2011-19) for eight seasons and was somewhat of a recruiting guru. He was largely responsible for integrating NBA regulars Kyle Kuzma and Delon Wright.

Well, here’s some great news, Utah fans: “Slocs,” as gamers call him, is back on The Hill, and he couldn’t be happier about it.

“I am so excited to be back. I’ve always thought of Salt Lake City as my second home, ”Slocum told Deseret News last week. “It’s a great place to live and train. I really like it here. I love this place, this university.

Even before Craig Smith was hired to replace Krystkowiak on March 27, the former Utah state coach contacted Slocum to assess his interest in returning to U. Slocum, whose status at UNLV was uncertain. due to the rumor that Rebels head coach TJ Otzelberger. traveling to Iowa State to replace Steve Prohm, was all ears.

On March 31, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Slocum and Smith were reuniting in Utah – they served as Tim Miles’ assistants at Colorado State for four seasons and became close friends – and the transition was formalized by the States. -United April 7th. .

Utah Assistant Basketball Coach DeMarlo Slocum coaches at the University of Utah’s Jon M. and Karen Huntsman basketball facility in Salt Lake City. Slocum is back for a second stint as Runnin ‘Utes’ assistant basketball coach.
University of Utah Track and Field

“DeMarlo understands the culture of excellence at the University of Utah, having served as an assistant here for eight years,” Smith said in a school press release. “He understands the Pac-12. … He can do anything. DeMarlo is a great leader, motivator, coach and recruiter.

Of course, Slocum’s return begs the question: why did he leave in the first place?

“It was never something I wanted to go here,” he said. “It was just a decision about my family and I felt like it was a good time to come back (to Las Vegas, where he’s from) and hang out with my mom because she was under. bad weather. The timing therefore worked perfectly. It was just a family decision that I thought was the best at the time.

Slocum, who played for two years at Dixie State College in St. George before finishing at Georgia Southern in 2001 with degrees in public recreation and kinesiology, told Krystkowiak there was only one school. that he would be leaving Utah – other than getting a head coaching job – and that was UNLV, “because of some family dynamics that I knew I had to deal with.”

Growing up in Las Vegas, Slocum said he began to admire the Runnin ‘Utes when teams coached by Rick Majerus visited the Thomas & Mack Center for games against the Rebels or conference tournaments. When he was in Dixie State, he made a few trips a year north to the Wasatch front, and that’s when he got “sold” to the state of Utah and its inhabitants.

“It became such a light in my eyes,” he said. “They never seemed to get the attention I could always see from a distance that they could get. And I loved the environment of Salt Lake City.

Slocum said when you live in Las Vegas, “It’s just crazy, crazy, crazy. Salt Lake is a pretty, cool and laid back place that matches my personality.

“So yeah, it was pretty easy to come back,” he said. “It is definitely a place where I have always seen that you have an opportunity to win a national championship, if you do it the right way.”

After being at UNLV for two seasons under Otzelberger, Slocum built a house in Las Vegas. He’s not ready to sell it yet, so he’s rented a place to live in Salt Lake City.

Utah Assistant Basketball Coach DeMarlo Slocum coaches at the University of Utah’s Jon M. and Karen Huntsman basketball facility in Salt Lake City. Slocum is back for a second stint as Runnin ‘Utes’ assistant basketball coach.
University of Utah Track and Field

“It’s really hard to juggle owning two houses,” he said.

Remembering his first time at U., Slocum hasn’t forgotten how “passionate and knowledgeable” fans are when the team rolls him around, as they did in 2015 and 2016. La city, and the state as a whole, sometimes get a bad rap as a place where nothing happens, he said, but found that it never had.

“Typically when you talk about Utah there is a tone in families that there is no life, or from a child’s point of view there is no life. exciting, or whatever, ”he said. “As you can see with the apartment buildings going up everywhere, the place is booming right now. From a recruiting point of view, it’s great. It is a booming city. I think he has a lot to offer.

Slocum has already lived up to his reputation as a strong recruiter, getting 6-2 goaltender David Jenkins Jr., a transfer graduate from UNLV, to join him at SLC.

He said the idea that it is difficult to recruit African Americans in Utah due to some high profile incidents involving fans and racial slurs at Utah Jazz games “is a bit of an exaggeration.” , but acknowledges that parents “ask questions about it, that’s for sure.”

He said he can easily explain what all of this means to suspicious parents, having lived in Utah for 14 years.

“For me it’s an easy conversation to have because I don’t think there’s a (big deal). You know, I have been practicing track and field in this state for 14 years and it has never been a problem. Treat people the way you want to be treated and hope they do the same.

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