SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – New Utah Runnin’ Utes assistant coach Eric Peterson is excited about the potential of center Branden Carlson.
Eric Peterson is in charge of working with the big men and has coached some great ones in his career, and is now working with Branden Carlson at Utah.
Carlson had great potential after finishing his sophomore season in 2020-21 under Larry Krystkowiak but Peterson sees what the former Bingham star needs to do to take his game to the next level.
Peterson joined the Crimson Corner for a live stream on Friday morning to discuss the potential of Carlson as well as many other topics.
Eric Peterson Needed One Conversation With Branden Carlson About Gaining Weight
Whenever the potential of Carlson was brought up to Larry Krystkowiak over the last two years, the coach would mention often the need for the big man to gain weight.
It sounded like that was more of a challenge when Krystkowiak was talking about it but Peterson believes it will happen under new strength and conditioning coach Logan Ogden.
“I’ve had a chance to work him out for three weeks,” Peterson told KSL Sports. “But you know, we talked to him right away. I think Coach (Craig) Smith just said, ‘Listen, I’m not going to keep bringing this up about your weight, we both know that you have to get stronger, you have to put weight on to get to where you want to go in your career as well and to take us to where we want to go.’ So it was just kind of one conversation about that. When you hire a really good strength coach, like Coach (Logan) Ogden, who we’d been with for a long time, and we trust, we know it’s going to happen, I mean, there’s no possible way, it’s not going to happen with him. So we feel comfortable with it, we think he’s gonna get bigger, faster, stronger. That’s what he does. That’s why he’s here.”
As a freshman in 2019-20, Carlson started in 29 of his 30 games played, while averaging 7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. He shot 55 percent from the field. This past season, Carlson improved his numbers in the 25 games he played with 21 starts. He averaged 9.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.
One Aspect Of Carlson’s Game Was Missing Before New Staff Arrived
As a sophomore this past season, Carlson added a three-point shot to his game, going 10-of-20 from beyond the arc. Most of those came towards the end of the season. While that is great to have as a seven-footer, Peterson talked with Carlson about what is missing in his game.
“I told him when I met with him for the first time, I watched him play, he can shoot it,” Peterson stated. “He was a very good rim roller off a screen and roll where you could catch and finish and screen and roll. The part that he was missing was just scoring with his back to the basket at a high level. Part of that is if you’re not strong, it’s hard to sit in the post down there and just demand the ball and score down there. Because you got to have a good base to put your body into people and seal people. I said, ‘that is the hole in your game right now. If you get that piece then you have a chance to be an unbelievable professional basketball player, no matter what level you’re playing at.”
Another role that Carlson could thrive in is moving to the four position at times, which would allow the Utes to play a bigger lineup and he has the ability to make perimeter jumpers to stretch the defense.
“He’s so skilled, we’ve been working him out a little bit with the guards as well, to see ‘hey, can we play him and go big, big, where he’s maybe a four or another big plays the four, however we do it. We compare it to a situation when we got to Logan, and our starting five man was Quinn Taylor, and he started the year before. Then we brought in the Neemias (Queta) and Quinn ended up being our starting four man and Neemias was our starting five. So we’re looking at all different options with him. He’s super skilled, he’s determined, he wants to be in the gym, he wants to get better. He’s married, his wife just got into law school here. So he’s pretty committed to doing this thing and getting better as a basketball player. I love working with him and he has tremendous upside.”
Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASports. You can download and listen to the podcast, here.