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Ruptured blood vessel gave former EWU player new outlook

Glen Dean, who transferred from EWU to Utah, drives with the ball during Utes’ tourney win over Cal. (Associated Press)
Glen Dean, who transferred from EWU to Utah, drives with the ball during Utes’ tourney win over Cal. (Associated Press)

LAS VEGAS – The past year wasn’t the easiest for Utah guard Glen Dean since he transferred from Eastern Washington following the 2010-11 season.

Not only did he have to redshirt last season per NCAA transfer rules, unable to help as the Utes limped their way to a 6-24 record and finished last in the Pac-12 standings. He also underwent surgery in December of 2011 after doctors discovered a ruptured blood vessel in his brain that could have threatened his life had it gone untreated.

So as Dean sat at his locker, disappointed after Utah was eliminated from the Pac-12 tournament by Oregon on Friday night, he said he’s still grateful for his opportunity to play for a team in a major conference.

After all, that was one of the reasons he left Cheney after two successful seasons at EWU.

“Playing at this level, at the highest level, it’s something as a kid you dream about,” said Dean, who has one year of eligibility remaining. “Getting the opportunity has been great.”

Dean began the season atop Utah’s guard rotation, playing 30 or more minutes in nine of the Utes’ first 10 games. His playing time dwindled as the season progressed, though he remained a regular in the rotation.

The former Big Sky Freshman of the Year finished this season with averages of 5.5 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game, and declined when asked to characterize how he felt his season went.

But Dean thinks the future is bright for the Utes, who won four of their final five games and were far more competitive than they were a year ago.

“We didn’t get this one and we came up short. Credit to a great Oregon team,” Dean said. “But it’s been one hell of a ride. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

Dean said his health scare changed his perspective on life, which explains why he said he planned to get right back in the gym after Utah returned to campus.

“Don’t take anything for granted,” Dean said. “Whatever you do decide to do, don’t ever look back on any decisions you make, and whatever you do, do it with everything you’ve got, because you don’t want to look back and regret not giving it your all.”

He certainly has no regrets about leaving EWU for Utah, but he said he’s still close with many of his former teammates, particularly Kevin Winford and Jeffrey Forbes – “they’re like brothers to me” – as well as assistant coach Shantay Legans.

As for his current team, which finished this season 15-18, Dean sees a bright future.

“I felt like (winning recently) proved we made improvements over the course of the year,” he said, “and we can compete in this league.”

That’s all he ever wanted.