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BYU guard Alex Barcello taking on new roles as point guard, team leader

The Cougars have lost 70% of their scoring from last season, as well as a lot of experience, with the departure of seven seniors, including Yoeli Childs, TJ Haws and Jake Toolson. Barcello is expected to help fill that void.

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BYU assistant coach Cody Fueger played a key role in the Cougars landing transfer guard Te’Jon Lucas.

BYU Cougars assistant coach Cody Fueger talks with guard Alex Barcello (4) in Provo on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020. BYU won 96-70.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

PROVO — As the only returning senior on the BYU basketball roster, guard Alex Barcello is embracing his new roles.

Not only will Barcello be the primary point guard next season but he’ll also take on a big responsibility in terms of leadership. 

The Cougars have lost 70% of their scoring from last season, as well as a lot of experience, with the departure of seven seniors, including Yoeli Childs, TJ Haws and Jake Toolson. Barcello is expected to help fill that void.


Brigham Young Cougars guard Alex Barcello (4) grabs a rebound around the San Francisco Dons in Provo on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

“My role is going to increase from last year, for sure,” said the 6-foot-2 Barcello, a transfer from Arizona. “That’s something I’m trying to prepare for right now. I’m ready for this upcoming season but I need to work every day. I’m trying to get better every single day and become a leader where I can lead this team and get all the guys on the same page like we were last year. I need to be a huge leader on next year’s team.”

In coach Mark Pope’s first season, BYU posted a 24-8 record, finished with a No. 18 ranking and was projected to be a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament. 

Despite a lot of roster turnover since the season ended abruptly, Barcello and his teammates are working toward another strong performance in 2020-21.

“We had a really great season and we should be proud of it. But we can’t think about that anymore,” he said. “We have a big season coming up and we’ve got to be prepared for that. We’ve got to get to work. That’s where we’re at right now. We have to grind and grind and grind.”

Barcello recorded 9.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game last season. He shot 49% from the floor, including 48% from 3-point range and 88% from the free-throw line. He knocked down a career-best 6 of 8 3-pointers at Loyola Marymount. 

At the end of the win at Pepperdine in late February, Barcello broke his wrist, which he played with in the loss to Saint Mary’s in the West Coast Conference Tournament semifinals. 

Barcello has recovered from that injury and the coaching staff is putting the keys of the offense into his hands. 

“Alex will have the ball in his hands a ton. Jake, Alex and TJ were coming off ball screens and we’ll have the same thing this year,” said assistant coach Cody Fueger. “Alex is going to be more primary, like TJ was this year. Alex has taken another step.”

BYU is allowing players to return to campus for voluntary workouts starting June 1. During the coronavirus pandemic, which ended the season prematurely and canceled the NCAA Tournament, players participated in their own workouts and stayed connected with each other. 


Brigham Young Cougars guard Alex Barcello (4) drives around Loyola Marymount Lions forward Ivan Alipiev (35) during the game at the Marriott Center in Provo on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

“Three days a week, we work out on FaceTime, just the players. That’s where we do all of our bonding,” Barcello said. “We continued to work just like we did last year during the offseason. We wanted to work as hard as we could to become great. We’re in a great spot right now because everyone on this team has bought into that and knows that we’re not going to be given everything. We have to earn everything and take everything. That’s what we’re trying to do right now. We’re in a good spot mentally right now because we have that mindset. My role is going to increase just like other guys’ roles are going to increase. There are spots where guys need to step up and fill those roles. There’s no doubt in my mind that there are guys that can do that.”

Roles will be different this season but the expectations remain high for Barcello and guards Connor Harding, Trevin Knell and Jesse Wade in terms of producing another efficient offense. 

“There were a lot of times last year when we had to change up our offense, like when Yoeli came back,” Fueger said. “At the beginning, Alex was showing that he was a heckuva playmaker and he did that all year long. Now he’s going to be able to do that a lot more. He’s taken his leadership role to the next level. He’s really been involved in everything. He’s all-in. Connor’s been the same way. Trevin is another guy that will take a big step. Connor had a huge role last year and he’ll have another huge role this year. It’s just going to be a little bit different. He’s going to be asked to do more things. We tweaked some things when Yoeli was eligible. Even the incoming guys are really hungry to make this thing go. It’s pretty fun.”

The Cougars led the nation in 3-point shooting a year ago, an accomplishment that will be tough to repeat. But Fueger has confidence in the guards’ ability to be a deep threat again this season. 

“We have a lot of guards that can shoot the ball that are really hungry. They have a lot to prove,” he said. “We’ve spent a lot of time with them over Zoom calls. They have chips on their shoulders and they want to show they can do this. We lost some really talented guys. But the guys coming back are really hungry to produce next year.”

“All the guards that we have are extremely efficient shooters. They can shoot at a high clip and handle the ball really well and play defense,” Barcello said. “I’m going into the season with the mindset that we have the best guards in the country and we have the best bigs in the country. That’s what we’re working towards. They’re not the same players but they all bring something different to the table and the roles they’ll be stepping into.”