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Why Alex Barcello’s return to BYU is a big deal

When Alex Barcello decided to return to BYU as a super senior, it changed things for Mark Pope

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BYU guard Alex Barcello steals a loose ball from Santa Clara’s Tahj Eaddy on Feb. 20, 2020. Barcello will return next season.

BYU Cougars guard Alex Barcello (4) steals a loose ball from Santa Clara Broncos guard Tahj Eaddy (2) at Brigham Young University in Provo on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

This article was first published as the Cougar Insiders newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Tuesday night.

It took a while for Alex Barcello to make up his mind to turn professional or return to BYU as a super senior. When he decided to play another year for Mark Pope, it changed BYU’s season.

Here is a series of stories and analysis pieces describing the background and impact of this important development for Pope and the Cougars:

  • Barcello and Lucas are two reasons BYU’s NCAA chances grow (Jeff Call)
  • Why Barcello’s return is gold for Mark Pope (Dick Harmon)
  • Why Barcello decided to come back to BYU (Jeff Call)

Cougar Insider predictions

Here is the question of the week: How big a boost was it for Mark Pope to receive word that Alex Barcello would return for a super senior year?

Jay Drew: A couple of weeks ago, BYU’s roster for the 2021-22 season had some glaring weaknesses — few, if any, playmakers. Few guys who could create their own shots, rescue the team as the shot clock was winding down.

What a difference a couple of weeks makes. Getting Te’Jon Lucas out of Milwaukee and supreme point guard Alex Barcello to return as a “super senior” is absolutely huge for coach Mark Pope. 

Barcello’s announcement last Friday means the Cougars will have one of the top guard lines in the West. Again, credit Pope with the effort selling Barcello on returning. Obviously, the coach knew it would be tough to repeat the successes of the past two seasons without the leader from Arizona.

Getting Barcello back also sends a signal to other would-be transfers that BYU is an accommodating place, and transfers can thrive in Provo. Lucas should fill the shoes of Brandon Averette nicely, and the Cougars are again looking like a top-three team in the West Coast Conference.

Dick Harmon: How big a deal was this Barcello return? Guys like Caleb Lohner and Gideon George are smiling big time with the coaching staff. They have a seasoned pilot playmaker back distributing, shooting and dribbling. Their playmaker won’t be guessing, learning, being taught. They won’t be waiting for a new, inexperienced point guard to “come along” and learn the system, they will be rocketing right out of the chute when the season begins. Better all around for everyone.

Barcello just isn’t a great point guard, he is an All-American. He is a go-to guy, a passionate leader and known commodity as an all-WCC performer. Pope has to be ecstatic having this kind of leadership back that is humble enough to admit he needs to polish his game to make himself a better product as a pro. Pope did this with Yoeli Childs and now he’s two for two in getting a star to come back and feed with him and the program. I think it is a difference-make for a team looking to challenge Gonzaga this coming season.

Cougar tales

The BYU track and field team made a huge splash at the NCAA West Preliminary meet at College Station, Texas this past week. The team sent a record 69 performers and qualified 23 entrants to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon, on June 12.

After seeing much of the preliminary, it is extremely impressive what Ed Eyestone has done in recruiting and preparing these athletes. They are deep, talented, skilled and experienced. But more importantly, it seems they are very hungry and motivated. That’s on the coaching. The runners and field event men and women are all very dangerous. The Cougars have a chance to not only win it all, but place very high with athletes capable of placing first or scoring points to add to the total. Both men and women are solid squads. 

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Comments from Deseret News readers

Pope has once again taken the ‘but who’s going to be playing’ and used the transfer portal and current guys to get together a great team.

I’m just hoping that we can keep Pope in Provo for a few more years.

I’m also excited to see what Smith can do for the Utes. Would be great to see both programs firing on all cylinders and being impressed at the same time.

— Josh_lndn

Sounds like coach Clune is taking a page from coach KW’s coaching manual and looking to get more hybrid kids into BYU’s defensive lineup. That’s really the only way to effectively stop good spread teams. Allows you to do less of the drop eight stuff for one thing. Smart move with this schedule.

— Atkins

Up next

June 12 | TBA | NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships | @Eugene, Oregon

June 17 | TBA | BYU football media day | BYUtv