Saunders Jr. Signs with Runnin' Utes for Upcoming Season
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah head men's basketball coach Craig Smith announced the addition of Mike Saunders Jr. to the Runnin' Utes roster for the upcoming 2022-23 season Monday afternoon.
"Mike is a playmaking guard that brings an excellent blend of speed, power, and skill," Smith noted of the newest Runnin' Ute. "Mike competes and brings a level of physicality on both ends of the floor. He plays with a tenaciousness and speed that is both impactful and infectious to everyone in the gym."
Saunders Jr. joins two other newcomers in Wilguens Exacte Jr. and Keba Keita, who signed their National Letters of Intent late last week when the signing period opened up.
A transfer from Cincinnati, Saunders Jr. will have a familiar face in Tim Morris on staff – who served as an assistant coach for the Bearcats his freshman year. Saunders Jr. is no stranger to state of Utah, having spent his junior and senior seasons at Wasatch Academy where he helped lead the Tigers to a 53-6 record – including a consensus national top-5 ranking his senior year.
The 6-0 guard averaged 7.3 points and 20.4 minutes last season and shot a .359 clip from beyond the arc while playing in all 33 games for UC. He was also named to Jon Rothstein's 20 Under-the-Radar Breakout Players for the 2021-22 season. A career-high 20 points against then-No. 14 Illinois highlighted his sophomore season and followed up with a season-high 28 minutes against then-No. 12 Arkansas in the Hall of Fame Classic.
As a freshman, Saunders Jr. averaged 3.5 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists while starting in 10-of-22 games – all of which came in the final stretch of the season. He had a breakout game late in the season against Memphis at home, posting 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting with a pair of threes. He also started in all three American Athletic Conference Tournament games for the Bearcats, averaging 6.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists with a .409 shooting clip before losing to Houston – a Final Four participant that year – in the AAC Championship game.
For the latest news and information on the Runnin' Utes men's basketball program, fans can stay connected online at www.UtahUtes.com and on social media by following @UtahMBB on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.