With Chris Burgess leaving BYU, where will coach Mark Pope turn to replace him?
On Wednesday, sources told the Deseret News that Burgess is leaving the Cougars to join Craig Smith’s staff at Utah
In the three years that Chris Burgess spent as an assistant basketball coach at BYU, he made a big impact.
Not only did he prove to be an excellent recruiter, but he also did an impressive job developing post players like Fousseyni Traore and Atiki Ally Atiki.
Burgess was instrumental in Purdue transfer Matt Haarms choosing BYU over Kentucky and Texas Tech in 2020.
On Wednesday, sources told the Deseret News that Burgess is leaving the Cougars to return to his alma mater, Utah, and join Craig Smith’s staff.
“Chris was one of the most highly touted recruits out of high school, played in a national championship game at Duke and was coached by one of the most fundamentally sound coaches at Utah in Rick Majerus,” Pope said that day. “He pulls from his own personal experiences as a collegiate athlete and extensive experience as a professional career to not only teach these young men the fundamentals of the game but to also help them grow as players and people.”
Now, Pope is searching for a new assistant for his staff. And it will be a crucial hire as BYU prepares to join the Big 12 in 2023-24.
Where will Pope turn to replace Burgess?
Two of the candidates for the head coaching job in 2019 before Pope was hired were Barret Peery, who is now the associate head coach at Texas Tech, and Mark Madsen, who is the head coach at Utah Valley University.
Would either be interested in being an associate head coach at BYU?
Would Peery, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and hails from Payson, be interested in leaving Lubbock and returning to Utah County? Certainly, Peery would be a huge help to the Cougars as they prepare for Big 12 play.
Madsen is also a Latter-day Saint and he played in the NBA from 2000-09. He impressed BYU officials when he went through the interview process in 2019. Would he want to leave a head coaching job to join Pope’s staff in Provo?
Then-head coach Dave Rose hired Pope to replace Rice on his staff. Rice was most recently an assistant at Washington, from 2017-21. He attended the West Coast Conference Tournament in Las Vegas in March.
Wasatch Academy coach Paul Peterson could also be a candidate for the opening on Pope’s staff. Wasatch Academy has produced numerous college players, including Caleb Lohner and Traore.
Certainly, Burgess’ departure leaves a void on Pope’s staff.
In 2020, Burgess was named one of “50 Impactful Mid-Major Assistants” by Silver Waves Media.
“Burgess has quite the pedigree as he played for Rick Majerus at Utah and reached the national championship playing for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke after being the No. 1 overall recruit in the country and a McDonald’s All-American in high school,” Silver Waves Media wrote. “After learning under two legends, Burgess got his start as a coach at Salt Lake CC and Indian Hills CC before moving on as an assistant coach at Utah Valley.”
At BYU, Burgess helped coach the Cougars to a 24-8 record in 2020, an NCAA Tournament berth in 2021, and a spot in the NIT quarterfinals in 2022.
Burgess played a key role in both player development and recruiting.
“Just like with Matt Haarms and Alex Barcello and even Yoeli Childs, getting him to come back, we’re going to swing for the fences,” Burgess said last year about BYU’s recruiting philosophy. “We’re going for home runs. Those are the type of players we know that can help us get back to the NCAA Tournament and make a deep run.”
Now, Burgess is taking his recruiting ties, and coaching ability, to arch-rival Utah.