Kyle
Kuzma
Position: PF
Height/Weight: 6'9" / 221 lbs
School/Club: Utah
Status: Junior
Birthday: July 24, 1995

DRAFT TRADE: Traded to Los Angeles Lakers

About Kyle Kuzma

Kuzma comes from a long line of Flint, Mich. natives who went on to star in college basketball, but he wasn’t an instant star, like for example, Michigan State’s Miles Bridges was. He had to work at it, in the classroom and on the court. There were times during his career, when Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak was hammering him for defensive lapses or some other transgression, that Kuzma considered transferring, but he hung in there and became a first-team All-Pac-12 player. Kuzma has developed the reputation of a gamer, a competitor who plays hurt—he was hampered by an ankle injury much of the 2016-17 season—and studies the game, looking for every angle to improve, and gain an edge.

Strengths

  • Mobility
  • Capable of playing either forward spot
  • Above average length
  • Vastly improved as a defender
  • Can score in the post, off the bounce or facing up
  • Good passer
  • Competes on the boards

Weaknesses

  • Has to become a more consistent perimeter threat
  • Decision-making can be shored up
  • Not an explosive leaper

NBA projection: Kuzma has been projected as a second-round pick.

2016-17 Season
Despite being plagued by an ankle injury, Kuzma earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors and honorable mention Pac-12 defensive team honors after finishing fifth in the conference in scoring and fourth in rebounding. He led the Utes in both statistics, but displayed other skills as well, including passing. In a win over Montana State, Kuzma was one assist shy of a triple double after also racking up 16 points and 15 boards. Kuzma helped lead the Utes to a 20-11 record (11-7 in the Pac-12) and a spot in the NIT.

Key statistics: 16.4 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 2.4 apg, 2.1 tpg, 30.8 mpg, .504 FG, .321 3PT, .669 FT

Career Highlights: Earned both all-conference and all-defensive team honors as a junior. Ranked 39th in the nation in rebounding (9.3) and 26th in double-doubles (15). Selected All-Pac-12 First Team.

Cool statistic: It didn’t take long for Kuzma to shatter his previous record for rebounds in a game. It had been 12, set twice in his sophomore season, but in the Utes’ 2016-17 season opener against Northwest Nazarene, he grabbed 19, the most by a Utah player since Andrew Bogut pulled down 20 against New Mexico in 2005.

Reminds me of: Tobias Harris

What Insiders Say
Utah coach Larry
Krystkowiak
“He’s unique in that he’s capable of playing the three and four. He’s 6-9, and we’ll probably try to take advantage of isolations in the post, and play him on the wing because he’s skilled and can shoot it. He gives us a little bit of versatility.”

What Outsiders Say
Kuzma mentor Vin Sparacio

"He's light years ahead of where he was academically," Sparacio told the Salt Lake Tribune. "His academic situation was a complete mess [before arriving at Utah]. He didn't have great habits. It's hard for me to process that he's going to earn his degree. He's so much more mature."

 

Chris Dortch is the editor of the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. You can email him here, follow him on Twitter and listen to the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Hour.

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