BYU to honor 4 players on Senior Night, including Alex Barcello and Te’Jon Lucas
Gavin Baxter and Richard Harward, who were lost for the season, will also be recognized in the Cougars’ regular-season finale.
It’s difficult to overstate Alex Barcello’s contributions to BYU’s basketball program over the past three seasons.
For starters, Barcello has started every game — 88 — since Mark Pope took over the program in 2019.
He’s one of four seniors that will be honored Saturday (6 p.m. MST, ESPNU) in the regular-season finale against Pepperdine, along with Te’Jon Lucas, Richard Harward and Gavin Baxter at the Marriott Center.
During his time in Provo, Barcello has been one of the best 3-point shooters in the country. He’s also been a clutch performer, an efficient scorer, a dynamic playmaker, and a consummate leader. And that’s not all.
“He’s given his heart and soul to this university and this basketball program. He’s integrated himself into this setup in such a magnificent way,” Pope said. “He’s done so much service and example-setting and so much welcoming. He’s been an incredible ambassador for the university in his three years here.”
Barcello found his niche in his first season as a transfer from Arizona on a team that featured Yoeli Childs, T.J. Haws and Jake Toolson.
Pope recalled how quickly Barcello assimilated into the program.
“He came in his first year with a group that had been here and he fit in seamlessly. He became well-loved from the first day. After that first year, he spent the whole summer trying to grow himself into a leader of this locker room and of this team,” Pope said.
“He earned that space last year, both on the court and in the locker room. He really augmented those leadership roles over the last year. He’s been everything to BYU basketball. He’s the guy that ties these first three years together, for sure, with elite-level basketball play on the court and great leadership in the locker room.
“If you had to identify BYU basketball right now and you had to choose just one player that tied these past three years together, there’s nobody that won’t say Alex Barcello. That’s pretty impressive.”
A year ago during Senior Night, Barcello participated in a low-key ceremony in front of less than 2,000 fans, due to pandemic restrictions, at the Marriott Center. But using his extra year of eligibility offered by the NCAA due to COVID-19, Barcello returned for one more season with the Cougars.
Saturday, Barcello, Lucas, Harward and Baxter will be honored in front of a large crowd. Harward (heart condition) and Baxter (knee) were lost for the season early in the year.
Gideon George is listed as a senior but he is expected to return next season.
“It’s just different now,” Pope said of eligibility issues. “Every senior class for the next three years is going to be like, ‘You’re a senior but are you going to take the COVID year or are you ready to be done?’ We’re conscious of that. We’re trying to give guys space to make decisions.”
Lucas formed a close relationship with Barcello after he started looking into transferring to BYU and that bond has only grown since then. Lucas arrived at BYU last summerafter spending stints at Illinois and Milwaukee-Wisconsin.
“I can’t say how blessed I am to be able to play for the university and be able to come here and contribute to a great, historic program,” Lucas said. “We still have a lot of basketball left for us to get to where we want to be but this has been a great experience overall on and off the court. I built a lot of relationships with guys throughout the athletic department. I’m trying to soak it in and I’m grateful for meeting a lot of people and building relationships that will last a lifetime.”
Pope appreciates what Lucas has provided to the program in his short time in Provo.
“The joy and love of this game and love for his teammates and the willingness to sacrifice and elite-level basketball play from him has been so fun,” he said. “I think being a grad transfer, sometimes you don’t feel completely immersed. But he immersed himself from Day 1. It feels like he’s always been here. He’s been really special. What a great human being he is.”
Lucas is looking forward to Senior Night.
“I know it will be a surreal moment. All I know is, this is definitely will be my last home game. There’s no chance I’ll be back next year. At the end of the day, I’m just going to enjoy the moment. I’ve been blessed to be able to play at three great universities. I’m going to soak it all in and enjoy the moment,” said Lucas, whose mom, sister and grandmother will be in attendance.
“It’s going to be excited to finish the year off at home. Last year we had a Senior Night at Milwaukee and we had no fans (due to COVID-19). It will be great to actually have someone to walk out with and have a little moment with.”
Just two weeks ago, Barcello scored a career-high 33 points against Pepperdine. In Thursday night’s win over Loyola Marymount, he scored nine points and had seven assists and seven rebounds.
“He was working on a triple-double. That’s just who he is. It’s really sad that the last game that he’s ever going to play in this building is going to be this Saturday. He just does what’s needed. He had a couple of passes (Thursday) that were unbelievable,” Pope said.
“His laser against the hard show to Atiki (Ally Atiki) in the second half was emblematic of where he’s taken his game in terms of being a playmaker and passer in different defensive situations. He’s still making progress. He had a big-time game. Most importantly, on the defensive end, he was elite-level tonight. We don’t have a chance unless he’s an elite-level defender.”
As good as Barcello has been on the court for BYU, what he has meant to BYU’s program the past three years transcends even that.
Pepperdine (7-23, 1-14) at BYU (20-9, 8-6)
Saturday, 6 p.m. MST
Radio: BYU Radio/1160 AM