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Why one of the top basketball recruits in the country ultimately chose BYU over Utah

It came down to a ‘gut feeling’ said Collin Chandler of his decision to commit to BYU

Farmington High guard Collin Chandler (middle standing) announces Wednesday he will play his college basketball for BYU.
Farmington High guard Collin Chandler (middle standing) announces Wednesday at Farmington High that he will play his college basketball for BYU.
Tyler Haslam, Deseret News

The top high school basketball recruit in Utah announced the decision of where he’ll play his college basketball Wednesday afternoon — an announcement that, quite literally, was made with a bang.

When the blue smoke shot off by Collin Chandler and his family cleared in the Farmington High gymnasium, and his commitment to BYU was announced, Chandler felt relieved to officially have the decision behind him, but added the recruiting process and announcement has been something he’s long dreamed of.

“This is obviously a day that any kid dreams of, so I definitely loved it,” Chandler explained. “It’s been a little nerve-wracking, but I’m excited to finally have my mind narrowed down to BYU.”

The 6-foot-4, 170-pound shooting guard and Farmington native chose the Cougars over Utah, Stanford, Arizona and Oregon. Utah was the perceived favorite throughout much of Chandler’s recruiting process, but that perception changed after his official visit to Provo just a few weeks ago.

Chandler said the decision ultimately came down to a “gut feeling.”

“Being on (BYU’s) campus and kind of experiencing the culture they have down there, it just drew me in and I loved it,” Chandler said.

A member of the 2022 class, Chandler won’t officially enroll at BYU until 2024, after he serves a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. By that time, BYU will be a member of the Big 12 Conference, which ended up being a significant factor for Chandler.

“I wanted to play in the Big 12,” he said. “I wanted to play against those good teams like Kansas, Baylor, Texas Tech, all those powerhouse teams. I just wanted to play against the best.”

The 247sports composite rankings have Chandler listed as the No. 36-ranked recruit in the country after his junior season at Farmington High, where he averaged 22.6 points and five rebounds per game. With the announcement, Chandler goes down as the highest-rated recruit in BYU program history.

Growing up as a fan of University of Utah athletics, Chandler said BYU wasn’t really on his radar early on, but noted that Mark Pope and his staff made an impression that stuck.

“I just gave (Mark) Pope a chance,” Chandler said. “He’s obviously an awesome recruiter and I feel like he has the same views as me, and then when Big 12 news came out, I felt like I had to give him a chance.”

Though BYU earned the final nod, it wasn’t an easy decision by any means for Chandler, who stewed over the decision for quite some time before making the call last Saturday.

“I couldn’t decide for the longest time,” Chandler said. “It just came down to not as much of what was better and what was worse, it was just a gut feeling in the end.”

Chandler said it wasn’t easy to snub the Utes and said letting Craig Smith and his staff know his decision was one of the more difficult parts of the decision-making process.

Though he won’t enroll at the school for another two years, Chandler said he feels comfortable with BYU’s ability to help him maintain his abilities despite being away from competitive basketball for such a long time, adding that if anybody knows how to keep missionaries in good playing form, it’s BYU.

Collin Chandler poses with members of his family after announcing his decision to play college basketball for BYU.
Tyler Haslam, Deseret News

Chandler’s decision-day will not only go down as a significant day for BYU and the state of Utah, but also for a Farmington High program that is entering its fifth year of existence after losing in last year’s 5A championship game.

“It’s amazing for Collin and it’s amazing for our community and our school,” Farmington coach Kasey Walkenhurst said. “We’re lucky to have a player of his caliber, not just as a basketball player but as a kid, be an example to the young kids in our community that hopefully they can one day be the next Collin Chandler. The fact he’s staying in state is amazing for our state and for him.”

The day was also pegged as the last day of tryouts for Walkenhurst’s squad. When jokingly asked if he liked his chances of making the team, Chandler gave an optimistic reply:

“I’m hoping so.”