Boys Basketball: Ryan Utt's versatility invaluable for St. Charles Cardinals

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Ryan Utt's ability to play several positions on the floor has helped the St. Charles basketball team to a second consecutive CCL title. Through 12 games, Utt was averaging 7.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists.

Ryan Utt isn’t limited to just one role for the St. Charles basketball team. 

The 6-foot-4 senior can play small or power forward and, in some cases, he has even posted up with his back to the basket.

The Dublin resident has the length and quickness to guard on the perimeter as well as handling taller players in the paint.

And, Utt is one of the Cardinals’ top 3-point threats and also can hit the mid-range jumper. 

These talents have made Utt invaluable for St. Charles, which clinched at least a share of its second consecutive CCL championship by defeating DeSales 53-52 on Feb. 5. 

“I love the game and the culture of basketball,” Utt said. “I would call myself a power forward first, but I can hit the 3. In the new age of basketball, I guess we call it a ‘stretch forward.’ 

“I like how in the NBA you rely on your teammates, but you have the identity of what kind of player you are. There are people who are good at defense. There are guys who are good dribblers and passers. There are a lot of different ways to play the game.” 

Through 12 games, Utt was averaging 7.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists. He had made 16 of 39 (41%) on 3-pointers and 9-for-11 (81.8%) on free throws. 

“Ryan is definitely our best outside shooter,” said coach Michael Ryan, whose team lost 44-43 to Hartley on Feb. 10 to fall to 7-6 overall and 5-2 in the CCL entering its Feb. 12 game against Ready. “He’s hit some big shots for us even going back to his sophomore year. He was playing j.v. for us all year (as a sophomore) but we had some guys out, and he hit two big 3s (as part of an eight-point performance) to help us beat Hartley (58-46). He hit some big shots for us last year and has really come on strong in the second half this year. 

“It’s not just his 3-point shooting, but in his rebounding. He had some big offense and defense rebounds in the win over DeSales (on Feb. 5).” 

While 6-8 sophomore Chase Walker averages 6.1 rebounds to lead the Cardinals, Utt believes his work on the boards might be his biggest contribution to the team. 

“I think it’s important that I bring some extra rebounding, and that it’s not all Chase rebounding for us,” he said. “I feel that if we can win the rebounding war, then we’ll be in good shape to win the game.” 

Utt also has become more comfortable with his role as a leader. 

“I won’t say that I go out and yell at them, because they have as many years out there as me,” he said. “Sometimes in the fourth quarter, I will tell people to slow down a little. I can see things speeding up, and they need to get under control.” 

Ryan said that Utt’s leadership comes from his unmatched work ethic and the example that he sets for the others. 

“You always know what you’re going to get out of him,” Ryan said. “He has a good attitude. He never misses a practice and is consistent with his work ethic. He’s not a big talker but he leads by example. He’s been great because all of the other starters are two juniors and two sophomores, so that helps a lot.” 

Utt – who has a 3.9 GPA and plans to major in finance – has not made a college decision but said he does not expect to play at the next level. 

Before that, he has a season to finish with the Cardinals, who are seeded 16th in the district in Division I. They are scheduled to open against 43rd-seeded Zanesville on Feb. 23 at Pickerington North. 

St. Charles closes the regular season Feb. 18 at home against Walnut Ridge. 

“We could be shut down and go into (COVID-19 coronavirus) quarantine just that fast,” Utt said. “They say (senior year) goes fast, but it’s gone by super, super fast with two quarantines already. You can’t take any game for granted.”

shennen@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekHennen