Facebook Twitter

Alex Barcello provides ‘physical presence,’ experience, passing ability and quickness to BYU basketball program

Arizona transfer Alex Barcello is set to make BYU debut Friday in an exhibition game at the Marriott Center

SHARE Alex Barcello provides ‘physical presence,’ experience, passing ability and quickness to BYU basketball program

BYU’s Alex Barcello at BYU’s basketball practice facility in Provo on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

PROVO — After transferring to BYU from Arizona last August, guard Alex Barcello applied for a waiver from the NCAA to be eligible this season.

As the weeks passed, almost every day, his teammates would ask him about his eligibility status.

Invariably, Barcello would answer, “I don’t know yet but I’m going to keep working with you guys like I’m going to play this year. No matter what, it’s going to work out.’”

Then last Friday, BYU director of compliance Chad Gwilliam showed up before practice and asked Barcello how he would feel about playing this year.

“Shoot, I’d give anything to play this year,” Barcello said.

“Well, get ready,” Gwilliam said. “You’re going to suit up Friday.”

And the players and coaching staff went crazy. 

“It was very special for me,” Barcello recalled. “It surprised me, definitely ... You never know with the NCAA. But it was definitely a blessing in disguise. I never stopped working every day.”

Now that Barcello has been declared eligible to play this season by the NCAA, he’ll make his BYU debut Friday (7 p.m., BYUtv) in the Cougars’ lone exhibition game at the Marriott Center. 

BYU hosts UT Tyler, a Division II team that fell at Utah, 88-47, Wednesday. The Cougars officially open the season next Tuesday at home against Cal State Fullerton.  

The addition of Barcello “changes a lot” for the Cougars, said first-year coach Mark Pope. “He gives us a real physical presence in the backcourt, which is a huge gift. He’s an extraordinary young man. He’s a terrific basketball player and he brings a physicality that we desperately need. He’s a huge addition for us and we’re super grateful.”

Barcello, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound junior from Chandler, Arizona, played for two seasons at the University of Arizona. He appeared in 51 games, averaging 2.9 points. He recorded 48 rebounds, 35 assists and 13 steals. Barcello scored in double figures three times as a sophomore, including a career-best 16 points against Georgia Southern, 12 points at Utah and 14 points against California.

Barcello prepped at Corona del Sol High School, where he helped lead the team to a pair of 6A state championships and scored 2,254 career points. He was rated as the No. 2 recruit in the state of Arizona and was a member of the ESPN Top 100 for the class of 2017. 

Forward Kolby Lee is eager to play with Barcello. 

“I would describe him as one of the quickest guards I’ve ever played with,” Lee said. “He plays downhill and can stop on a dime. He’s a good shooter and a great passer. I love playing with him because he comes off ball screens quick and he’ll find you when you’re open.”

When Pope was the head coach at Utah Valley University, he watched Barcello play at Corona del Sol. Later, when UVU played Arizona, Pope got a chance to watch Barcello again. Pope reached out to Barcello once he was in the transfer portal last summer. 

“He’s a pass-first guy. He’s a bulldog of a physical player,” Pope said of Barcello. “He’s capable of really pressuring the ball. He can get wherever he wants to on the floor. He has another gear where he can get there really fast. He’s a pretty creative passer.”

Barcello is the right player for this team, Pope said. 

“He’s an extraordinary fit. He fits us, man, and we fit him. I fit him as a coach, basketball-wise, and he fits me as a player in terms of how he wants to approach this game. This university fits him in terms of what he cares about. He fits us in terms of how we expect him to conduct himself here. It’s a good match.”

Now that his wait is over, Barcello can’t wait to get on the floor and represent BYU.

“It’s just great to play with these guys that work hard every day,” he said. “We’re all about the same mentality — winning. They’re definitely encouraging me to be a better player. It’s fun to be here with these guys.”

UT Tyler at BYU

Friday, 7 p.m. MST

Marriott Center


Radio: KSL 1160 AM, 102.7 FM