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Utah dismisses best player before Thursday game against Arizona

Josh Watkins

Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak told point guard Josh Watkins to keep on walking. Douglas C. Pizac-US PRESSWIRE

The Arizona Wildcats won’t have to worry about playing against Utah point guard Josh Watkins — the Utes’ best player — on Thursday night. He was dismissed from the team Wednesday morning.

UA coach Sean Miller on Tuesday called Watkins a “very good point guard who means a lot to their team. … I don’t know if there’s another player that means more to their team’s success than him. When Utah plays well, he usually has a big night.”

Utah coach Larry Krystowiak dismissed Watkins for what he called a violation of team rules.

“The integrity of our program as a whole cannot be sacrificed for any individual,” Krystkowiak said in a story in the Salt Lake Tribune. “The well being of our program will always come first. This was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. I really wish Josh well and I hope he remains at Utah to finish his degree.”

Watkins, a 5-foot-11 senior, was averaging 15.6 points and 4.8 assists for the Utes, which has had numerous personnel losses in the transition to Krystowiak, the team’s a first-year head coach. Utah is 4-13 overall and 1-4 in the Pac-12.

Watkins scored 20 points and hit the winning jumper when Utah won its only Pac-12 game — 62-60 in overtime against visiting Washington State on Jan. 5.

Thursday night’s game begins at 6:30 p.m. from the Huntsman Center.

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