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BYU’s track and field teams head to Fayetteville, Arkansas, for NCAA preliminaries while the baseball team is in Stockton, California, for the West Coast Conference tournament this week. In the same time span, men’s golf will compete in the NCAA championships in Scottsdale, Arizona, and it looks like basketball coach Mark Pope is zeroing in on assistant coach hire as Tom Holmoe announced Amber Whiting as the new women’s head basketball coach.

Cougar Insider predictions

Question of the week: What should Mark Pope look for in hiring an assistant to replace Chris Burgess?

Jeff Call: The loss of Chris Burgess to Utah creates a big void on BYU’s coaching staff, literally and figuratively. He’s an outstanding recruiter and he did a great job when it came to working with, and developing, post players. But change can be good. Coach Mark Pope had been with Burgess and Cody Fueger since 2015, when they were all together at Utah Valley University. A new face on the staff could be invigorating. Pope still has Fueger and Nick Robinson, who are proven coaches. As for his next hire, Pope needs to find an assistant that has new and different connections, perhaps a coach that’s familiar with other areas of the country, or the world, in terms of recruiting and can open some doors for BYU. Someone that perhaps has no ties at all with BYU and can be a sounding board and support for recruits that also have no connection to BYU or the Latter-day Saint faith. It would also be nice for Pope to find an assistant that’s familiar with the Big 12 as the Cougars transition from the West Coast Conference to that league in 2023-24. As a program, it’s important to prepare for the future in the Big 12. It’s going to be a steep learning curve. 

Dick Harmon: The Chris Burgess replacement is an important hire because the guy has to be a workhorse. Cody Fueger is very important for Mark Pope and his contribution is valuable, as is that of Nick Robinson. The life of an assistant in Division I basketball is a grind. The hours are long, breaking down film, scouting reports, preparing for practices, travel, recruiting, keeping track of academics, conditioning, injuries and all the nuts and bolts that can be taken away from the head coach. Pope needs a recruiter with connections, an affable, approachable and charismatic personality, but most of all he has to do the grunt work. That guy could be former Louisville assistant Kahil Fennell or Hernan Olaya, a coach with the NBA Academy Latin America. Reports have several candidates on campus last week for interviews.

Another issue Pope faces is finding more outside off-campus name, image and likeness resources. He’s finding competitors are tough to match when it comes to this new phenomenon.

Cougar tales

Former BYU player Amber Whiting, a high school coach in Idaho, is the new women’s basketball coach replacing Jeff Judkins. Here is Jeff Call’s story on the hire and here is a clip of her daughter, Amari, an Oregon commit who is one of the best players in the country.

From the archives

Mitch Mathews on ‘Mangum’s Miracle,’ Kalani Sitake’s culture and why BYU has a good thing going
If Braeden Moore has the ‘super power’ Mark Pope thinks he has, BYU just got better

From the Twitterverse

Extra points


Comments from Deseret News readers

This goes down one of two ways. Option one: Most girls stay (they never all do with a coaching switch), they find a way to retain either Ray or Lee in what I call the “Dread Pirate Roberts Strategy.” They figure out how to keep Shaylee from transitioning to bigger programs offering more exposure (which may include hiring her mom as an assistant), Amari decommits from Oregon and comes to BYU, they bring in some immediate impact players and although struggle to synergize in the short term, they end up succeeding in the long run. That is what I am hoping for.

Option two: The whole current staff leaves and players start to follow suit or leave for other opportunities. With key players gone and no remaining staff to “steady the ship” ... current commits and pipeline recruits inevitably start to drop off. BYU stumbles through their last year in the WCC with a young team finishing between 4th and 6th and then gets absolutely hammered in the Big 12 for three consecutive years. Then a new coach comes in. The biggest key to avoiding this scenario is retaining all key players currently in the system (along with Lee or Ray). If she can pull that off ... she will be fine. That ... my friends ... will be her litmus test. Good luck.

— Utah Sports Fan

Should be a great year for BYU guys going into the draft.

It’s always intriguing to see the development along the way. The thought of Wilson being drafted in 2019 just wasn’t there. I thought he had a good chance of losing his role as a starter.

The fun thing to watch is that out of the last six players drafted from BYU there are:

One 3 star.

Three 2 stars.

Two walk-ons.

Just goes to show you what can happen when you focus throughout the season. Best of luck to all of these players. It’s a big, lofty dream to chase.

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— Josh From London

Up next

May 25-26 | 10 a.m. | Track and field | NCAA West preliminary | @Fayetteville, Arkansas

May 25 | TBA | Baseball | WCC tournament | @Stockton, California

May 27 | TBA | Men’s golf | NCAA championship | @Scottsdale, Arizona

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