BYU basketball staff building roster — from afar. Here’s how it’s going
While Alex Barcello and Matt Haarms mull their futures while working out at BYU, the hunt for a transfer guard continues for Cougar coaches
Mark Pope’s BYU basketball staff has been marching through the tall weeds of the NCAA transfer portal looking for a point guard this spring.
It’s a sea of prospects, bloating to more than 1,400. Players looking for a new home.
So far, BYU coaches have filtered through hundreds to find about 20 prospects they feel could potentially fit their needs, according to assistant coach Chris Burgess.
Of those, a fewer number received the scrutiny needed to find out if they fit — a lot of hard work that involves talking to college and high school coaches and scouring through other measurables and data.
The work has included prospects from Washington, Cincinnati, Duke, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Penn State, Utah and many other schools with transfer portal fodder. One of the latest is Illinois State guard Dusan Mahocic, who confirmed his BYU offer on Twitter Thursday.
To date, BYU has not signed any of them.
But that doesn’t mean Barcello — or Haarms— is coming back to play. That decision hadn’t been made as of Thursday, at least not publicly, according to Burgess.
“There is no update on them, unfortunately,” said the BYU assistant. “We just keep trying to keep them as informed as we can about their choices and support them any way we can.
“Alex and Matt are working out in our facility and we can see them all the time. They are unbelievable, just unbelievable guys. They are so much fun to be around.”
Meanwhile, Burgess likes the way former Timpview High combo guard Hunter Erickson has worked this past year without a second of playing time, redshirting his freshman year.
NCAA rules prohibit recruiting trips to college campuses until June 1. It’s been a strange experience for college recruiters like Burgess.
“Alex and Matt are working out in our facility and we can see them all the time. They are unbelievable, just unbelievable guys. They are so much fun to be around.” — Chris Burgess
“We’re getting used to it, it’s the difficult part, but it’s not really hard,” said Burgess. “I think the difficult part is we have an amazing campus in an amazing location right here with the mountains in the background and our facilities, our resources and amazing people, but many don’t get to experience that, especially if you’re the kid from back East, the Midwest or the South.
“There’re always some virtual (Zoom), and pictures and graphics and we send videos and those do their job, but it’s just not the same as if you walk on campus or you walk in the Marriott Center or the Marriott Center Annex and see how gorgeous the facilities are. It’s not the same as getting to meet with people and teammates on official visits.”
But it is a level playing field. The handcuffs are on every college recruiter.
“I think that’s what makes it super difficult at times. Remember we had Alex Barcello come on our campus and we were able to show him the campus and facilities in person. It was a huge selling point for him. He thought, ‘This is an amazing place and people were so genuine.’ So, losing that makes it difficult.”
With the in-person visit missing, Burgess says Pope’s staff has deployed a lot of creative presentations. They worked with Tanzanian Atiki Ally Atiki, one of the best prep players in Canada.
“We’ve been very creative with Zoom, PowerPoint presentations and Keynote presentations, videos, graphics and we try to show kids why this is a fantastic place and they will fit.”
The dead period is scheduled to end June 1 and Burgess and the rest of the staff are champing at the bit to show and recruit on campus with actual bodies.