After much anticipation, Utah head men’s basketball coach announced the return of former Runnin’ Ute Chris Burgess as part of his coaching staff on Tuesday.
“We are thrilled to announce that Chris Burgess will be returning to his alma mater as an assistant coach for the Runnin’ Utes. He is a fantastic coach, great recruiter and an excellent teacher. Chris is a relationship person – a connector. We are excited to welcome Chris and his family back to the University of Utah.”
Burgess, who played under the late Rick Majerus from 2000-02, returns to The Hill after spending the last three seasons down south and seven years in total alongside Mark Pope at both BYU (2019-22) and Utah Valley (2015-19).
“Returning to the University of Utah is exciting,” Burgess noted. “I love this University and am proud to be part of its basketball history. I’m excited for the opportunity to learn from Coach Smith, and help the student-athletes find success on and off the court.”
In his three seasons with the team down south, the Cougars compiled a 68-26 record and made their lone NCAA Tournament appearance in 2020-21 as the No. 6 seed – their first appearance since 2015. During that season, BYU ranked in the top-25 in defensive rebounds per game (5th, 29.7), rebounding margin (22nd, +6.7) and rebounds per game (25th, 39.19). Burgess also helped Matt Haarms become the first player in program history to earn WCC Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2020-21.
The 2021-22 campaign saw BYU finish 24-11 overall to go with a quarterfinal appearance in the NIT and signature wins over then-No. 12 Oregon as well as three NCAA Tournament bound teams.
His first season in Provo saw the Cougars go 24-8 overall with a final national ranking of #18/16 after the remainder of the season was shut down due to COVID-19. BYU saw three players earn All-WCC First-Team honors that season while the team led the nation in 3-point field-goal percentage (.422), second in assists/turnover ratio (1.57), third in field-goal percentage (.500) and fourth in total assists (556).
During his time at Utah Valley, the Wolverines went from a 12-win team his first year (2015-16) to a program record 25 wins in 2018-19. UVU saw plenty of success with Burgess on staff, recording back-to-back 20-win seasons from 2017-19 while also making three-consecutive postseason appearances (2017-19).
His development of post players saw Akolda Manyang named a WAC All-Defensive Team honoree in 2017-18 while Wyatt Lowell earned WAC Freshman of the Year in 2019.
Offensively, the Wolverines rewrote the school record books taking up the top-four spots in scoring average category led by a 78.1 scoring average in 2017-18. UVU also posted four of the top-five spots in the 3-point field goals made category – including a program best 300-made triples in 2016-17.
Before joining Pope’s staff, Burgess returned to Utah to finish out his undergraduate degree and served as a student assistant under former Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak in 2013-14. He then went on to serve as a volunteer assistant coach at Salt Lake Community College (2014) before taking the assistant coach job at Indian Hills CC (2014-15).
Prior to his coaching career, Burgess had a successful 11-year career playing professional basketball in Turkey, Australia, the Philippines, South Korea, Ukraine, Puerto Rico, Poland and the UAE.
A McDonald’s All-American and top-ranked recruit in the country, Burgess prepped at Woodbridge High School and went on to play for two legendary head coaches during his collegiate career. The Irvine, Calif., native played his first two seasons under hall of famer and former Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski from 1997-99 and helped the Blue Devils to a No. 1 ranking both years. The Blue Devils made an Elite Eight run his freshman year before making an appearance in the National Championship game in 1999.
He then transferred to Utah to play for Rick Majerus from 2000-02 after sitting out the 1999-2000 season due to NCAA transfer rules. After a solid start to his senior year, Burgess tore his right plantar fascia vs. Texas, forcing him to miss the remainder of his year. At the point of his injury, Burgess was leading the Utes with 13.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, and a .667 shooting clip while averaging 25.5 minutes a game. He finished his career at Utah guiding the Runnin’ Utes to an NIT appearance in 2001 and NCAA Tournament appearance in 2002.
Burgess is married to his wife Lesa, a former Utah soccer player. They have three daughters, Kelli Jo “KJ”, Zoey and Ava as well as two boys, Beckham and Zachary. Daughter KJ is a second-team AVCA High School All-American, who recently signed her NLI and is set to join the Utah Volleyball team this upcoming fall as a middle blocker.
|2022 – Present||Utah||Assistant Coach|
|2019 – 22||BYU||Assistant Coach|
|2015 – 19||Utah Valley||Assistant Coach|
|2014 – 15||Indian Hills CC||Assistant Coach|
|2014||Salt Lake CC||Volunteer Assistant|
|2013 – 14||Utah||Student Assistant|