PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – The top high school basketball player in the state has switched allegiances, and now he is explaining why.
Wasatch Academy High School 4-star recruit Caleb Lohner originally signed with Utah back in November. But he had a change of heart, was released from his letter of intent, and on Friday officially signed with BYU.
“When I made my decision, there were so many pushing and pulling factors, that ultimately I didn’t make the decision that I wanted to do,” Lohner said on a Zoom interview with ABC4. “I think throughout the year, I started slowly kept going back to that. I didn’t necessarily make the choice in my heart of what I wanted to do. There are going to be people hating the decision that I’ve made, and there’s going to be people loving the decision I made. But at the end of the day, I’m where I want to be.”
Many people were surprised the 6-foot-9 high flyer committed to Utah, seeing how Lohner’s dad Matt played for BYU in the 90’s. But Caleb said his dad did not influence his decision.
“He did not care where I went,” Caleb said. “He wanted me to be happy and he wanted me to be successful. He said, ‘Caleb, if you want to go to Utah, I’ll support you 100 percent.’ That was the end of the conversation. He never brought up anything after that.”
Utah could have played hardball and not released Lohner from his letter of intent, forcing him to sit out a season and lose a year of eligibility. But Lohner is thankful Utes head coach Larry Krysktowiak and athletic director Mark Harlan granted his release.
“I have a really deep respect for both of them,” Lohner said. “I think Coach Krystkowiak is an amazing human being, and amazing coach. Again, I have a really deep respect for him, but I am really grateful that he and Mark Harlan released me from my NLI.”
Lohner, who averaged 15 points and six rebounds per game for Wasatch Academy, should be able to make an impact right away on a talented BYU roster that includes Purdue transfer Matt Haarms, UVU transfer Brandon Averette, Gonzaga transfer Jesse Wade, as well as return players like Alex Barcello, Gavin Baxter and Connor Harding. Lohner really can’t wait to play for Cougars head coach Mark Pope.
“I know he wants to win,” Lohner said. “I know he’s going to care about me. Ultimately, he’s going to make me the best person and the best player I can possibly be.”
So what did eventually sell Lohner on playing in Provo?
“All of it,” he said. “The staff, the guys I’m going to be playing with, the school itself. I’ve had family that has gone there, I’ve grown up a Cougar my whole life. I think it will be a really cool and interesting experience just because of who I am. I think the BYU culture is awesome.”
But what about the hair? Lohner already trimmed his long locks a bit, but he may need to visit a barber one more time before school starts again.
“That was like the first thing anyone would ever talk about when I first considered BYU,” Lohner said with a laugh. “It was like, ‘Dude, your hair!’ But I actually cut a lot of it off, and I’m hoping I can stay right here with it.”