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Trading his BYU blue for Utah red, Gavin Baxter is looking for another chance

Former BYU forward Gavin Baxter gets shot at the University of Utah during a summer training session. Baxter transferred to Utah after the 2021-22 season. (Utah Athletics)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Wearing red isn’t easy for Gavin Baxter. In some ways, he’s still trying to adapt.

The Provo native and Timpview High graduate has always wanted BYU’s blue jersey. And for four seasons, Baxter proudly wore those colors as one of many family members who called BYU home during their college lives.

He worked tirelessly to make BYU the best program possible during his time there after serving a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But his last three seasons still ended: injuries at the start of the season.

With BYU on track for what was expected to be an NCAA tournament season, Baxter’s latest injury seemed to put a damper on those plans as the Cougars struggled with depth at the forward position for the remainder of the season. All Baxter could do was watch the end of his time at BYU.

A month after the season ended, former BYU assistant Chris Burgess accepted a coaching job on the staff of the University of Utah, Burgess’ alma mater, and Baxter entered his name. in the transfer portal before finally following his coach to his old rival school.

It was a decision to seek another opportunity to play, and largely due to Burgess’ move.

“To be honest, if he didn’t come here, I don’t know if I can make the move,” Baxter told KSL.com. “But he’s one of the best big-name development players in the country. And for him, it was pretty easy to decide to come and work with him and continue to develop my game.”

Burgess, he said, has the ability to “really break things down and then do it with a level of intensity on the court that guys are pushed for.” He’s a coach who knows a player can improve and really wants to see him do it.

“I think he does a phenomenal job of that,” Baxter added.

But turning BYU blue into Utah red was still an adjustment period for Baxter.

“It’s a lot redder, obviously, but it’s been a pretty good transition,” Baxter said. “The staff are great, the players are really cool and just getting to know everyone and understanding the layout of the pitch hasn’t been too bad.

“Obviously it was quite unexpected,” he added. “If I took a snapshot of my life many years ago and saw myself wearing red, playing at Utah, I think that’s kind of crazy, but I think everything happens for a reason. Me, being a lifelong Cougar fan, I grew up in Provo, you kind of realize it’s a rivalry and all that, but at the end of the day, it’s just another team down the road, and that’s me. gave the opportunity to play another year.”

Former BYU forward Gavin Baxter gets shot at the University of Utah during a summer training session.  Baxter transferred to Utah after the 2021-22 season.
Former BYU forward Gavin Baxter gets shot at the University of Utah during a summer training session. Baxter transferred to Utah after the 2021-22 season. (Photo: Utah Athletics)

Baxter has been cleared to practice as part of the team’s summer conditioning, he said, but is still “months away” from full contact and ready to adjust to Utah during ‘a match. After three consecutive season-ending injuries, he is used to the rehabilitation and work needed to get back into shape, but the mental aspect associated with the game is still ongoing, he admitted.

“Yeah, I mean, it’s really frustrating; and more than anything, I think it tested me more mentally than physically,” he said. “You get used to rehab and training and trying to get in shape, but mentally I think that’s where you really have to stay resilient. So that’s something I have to make sure to TO DO.

“For me, I think it’s just a matter of confidence. I have to get my confidence back in my body, my game. And once I get them back to where they should be, I think the sky’s the limit. “

As head coach Craig Smith enters his second season at the helm of the program, Baxter’s eventual presence should be a welcome addition, if not solely for depth and experience. But regardless of Baxter’s place on the court at the start of the season, he hopes he finally gets the chance to show off the talent that many were excited about when he signed to BYU.

And even though the two teams are still rivals, Baxter said he’s still a guy BYU fans can cheer on in the upcoming season.

“I’m a nice guy,” he said. “We’ll leave it at that.”

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Josh is the athletic director of KSL.com and editor of athletics at the University of Utah – primarily football, men’s basketball and gymnastics. He is also an Associated Press top 25 voter for college football.

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