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Guest commentary: The Marriott Annex will raise the BYU basketball program to a higher level

Early this December, a serious key to the future of BYU men’s basketball was finalized when the Marriott Center Annex was completed. This building is expected to help train players at a higher level and improve the quality of the program.

This facility will also provide higher-quality therapy for players and lead to a much higher level of recruiting. The annex will play a similar role to the indoor practice facility for the football team.

While the BYU men’s basketball team held its first practice in the Marriott Center Annex on Oct. 4, the building was not officially completed until just recently. The completion of the building marks the beginning of a new era of BYU basketball and training.

“I feel like this is something that will really help these players not only this year, but for all the years down the road and in the future,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said.

This is a big upgrade for both the men’s and women’s basketball programs. Now campus events, such as weekly devotionals, do not interfere with team practices. The idea of building the annex started because Rose wanted a place to practice during other university events. Now he has much, much more.

Ground was broken for the Marriott Center Annex on Nov. 30, 2015. It is located directly east of the Marriott Center and is a two-story, 38,000-square-foot facility. There is a tunnel between the annex and the Marriott Center, making it easy to travel between the two. It is convenient that players and coaches will be able to stay warm in the winter by traveling through the underground area.

Inside the annex there is a replica of the Marriott Center basketball floor, with additional shooting areas on both ends. It includes strength and conditioning rooms, a hydrotherapy room and offices for the men’s and women’s coaching staffs. The annex also includes meeting rooms, a team lounge and study areas for the players.

When recruits come to visit the annex, they will be able to experience the basketball hall of honor, an area dedicated to the great players that have come before them. This hall includes BYU basketball greats like Danny Ainge, Devin Durrant and Jimmer Fredette, to name a few. This hall will provide visitors an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the great players and moments that have happened during the history of the program. It will also hopefully give them a desire to come and create their own memories, so that one day they can possibly become a part of the hall.

The announcement of the building of the annex had immediate positive results, as this past August the Cougars were able to sign two big recruits to their roster for 2017. The Cougars were first able to get a commitment from Christian PoPoola Jr., a three-star recruit from Bishop Gorman High School in Nevada. The 6-foot-3 guard also spent his sophomore year at Lone Peak High School. His commitment to BYU will increase the number of Lone Peak players on the roster to five. He will have the advantage of playing with his former coach Quincy Lewis, now an assistant coach at BYU, as well as with former high school teammates Eric Mika, TJ Haws, Nick Emery and Zach Frampton.

The other addition to the team, Kolby Lee, is a four-star recruit out of Meridian, Idaho. He is a 6-foot-9, 260-pound center who was rated as the top recruit in Idaho for 2017. Historically, BYU men’s basketball has had trouble getting many three and four star players to commit to the program, but with the addition of the annex, the recruitment of higher-level players is becoming more possible.

With the completion of the Marriott Center Annex, it is becoming more likely to recruit the best Mormon basketball talent. In the past five years, the Cougars have missed out on players like Jabari Parker and Frank Jackson as both chose to go to Duke. Parker now starts for the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA, while Jackson continues to tear it up in his freshman campaign at Duke, averaging 12.3 points per game on one of the top teams in the country.

For the past decade, the BYU men’s basketball team has been relatively solid, making the NCAA Tournament eight of the last 10 years. However, those eight appearances have ended with a 4-8 record.

With the completion of this state of the art facility, the program hopes to build on a successful past decade and carry that momentum with them into the future. Hopefully this momentum and new facility can even lead the Cougars to a previously unattainable trip to the Final Four.

Elliot Scharffs is a junior at BYU studying communications with an emphasis in news media. From Springville, Utah, he is an associate producer at BYUtv and aspires to become a sports broadcaster in the near future.