Utah received some backcourt help on Saturday via the transfer portal.

Coach Craig Smith and his Runnin’ Utes program picked up their first transfer commitment of the 2022 class with the announcement that former Cincinnati point guard Mike Saunders Jr. is headed to Salt Lake City. Saunders posted the news to social media.

The 6-foot, 185-pound sophomore guard had interest from Cal, BYU, Miami, and Nevada, among others, but it’s the Utes who earned his signature. As things stand, the Utes should have good depth in the backcourt next season. Saunders joins Wilguens Exacte Jr. in the 2022 class. Marco Anthony has announced a return for his super senior season, while Rollis Worster, Gabe Madsen, and Lazar Stefanovic all have eligibility remaining.

Saunders played 20 minutes a night off the bench for the Bearcats this past season. He averaged 7.3 points and 2.7 assists in his time on the floor, while shooting 36% from the field and 65% from the free throw line. Saunders showed significant improvement in his perimeter shooting and playmaking year-over-year. As a freshman during the 2020-21 season (16 minutes a night in 22 appearances, 10 starts), he shot 22% from 3 and averaged an equal number of turnovers to assists (1.4).

His 3-point volume more than doubled as a sophomore while his percentage jumped to a respectable level. His assists also nearly doubled while still averaging just 1.6 assists. Looking at his per-40 production, Saunders projects as a guard who can give Smith a little bit over everything in his rotation. His per-40 line last season was 14.5 points, 5.3 assists, 3.9 rebounds, and a steal.

Saunders has also been a plus defender each of his first two seasons with the Bearcats.

The Indianapolis native and Wasatch Academy (Utah) graduate will have four years to play three for the Utes.