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Yoeli for governor? BYU coach believes Childs has bright future in pro basketball — and politics

BYU basketball coach Mark Pope was impressed enough to invite Childs to talk to his team via a Zoom meeting this summer to discuss social justice issues. He says Childs should seek political office someday — the highest in the state of Utah. 

BYU forward Yoeli Childs runs back after a basket during game against UVU on Nov. 29, 2017.
BYU forward Yoeli Childs runs back after a basket during game against UVU on Nov. 29, 2017.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

PROVO — Does former BYU basketball star Yoeli Childs have a future in politics?

Coach Mark Pope thinks so.

Childs, who finished his Cougars career No. 6 all-time in scoring and No. 1 in rebounding in school history, is preparing for the NBA draft in October.

In June, he posted an impactful message on Instagram about what it’s like to be a Black man living in Utah.

Pope was impressed enough to invite Childs to talk to his team via a Zoom meeting this summer to discuss social issues. He says Childs should seek political office someday — the highest in the state of Utah.

“He’s one of the most extraordinary young people and certainly one of the most thoughtful and well-spoken and insightful. I don’t know if you could find a better example,” Pope said. “After that post — and I’ve been kind of leaning this way for a while — I think he should run for governor. I don’t know what the age qualification is but he could do a lot of good for our state.

“He certainly has an unbelievable capacity to lead and to inspire people and to speak words that are challenging but powerful for everybody,” Pope continued. “We had several conversations. He’s got some ideas in the works where he can make a constructive difference that we can take some steps forward on.

“I thought it was tremendous for him to speak to our team. I was a little despondent at first, recognizing some of the conversations we had never had in our locker room about personal experiences that Yoeli had. It was a place for us to grow and gain deeper understanding. This kid’s a stud. He’s incredible.”

Told about Pope’s comments that Childs should run for governor, Childs laughed and said, “I don’t know about all of the politics, but who knows?”

Meanwhile, Childs has credited Pope for helping him prepare for the NBA. Pope said he’s been in discussions with NBA teams about Childs’ potential.

“We’re getting unbelievable feedback. You never know how the draft goes, especially in this environment where everything is unprecedented,” he said. “It’s never happened before so you can throw all the traditional metrics out the window. From individual teams, we’re getting great feedback. He’s probably done Zoom calls with two-thirds of the teams in the league.

“With very few exceptions, I get a phone call soon after saying, ‘This young man is incredible.’ I think teams in the league are getting a sense of him and clearly, he was so focused this year on expanding his game in terms of what people notice,” Pope continued. “The feedback we get from NBA teams has been remarkable in terms of how people are now believers.

“That he can guard a ball screen, he can guard in isolation and he can push the ball with the ball in his hands in transition. His game has grown in significant areas for him to be able to make that next jump. I’ll never doubt this young man. I think he’s going to do whatever he sets his mind to.”