Senior Night at the Marriott Center on Saturday will have an air of mystery to it as the BYU basketball team honors three players before playing host to Oklahoma State.

Coach Mark Pope said Thursday during his weekly press briefing that seniors Spencer Johnson, Jaxson Robinson and Tredyn Christensen, a walk-on, will be honored before the 7 p.m. tipoff and receive their senior blankets.

“Well, if he’s a first-round draft pick, he’s gotta go. And who knows what that means. We will find that out a lot more. Then short of that, it is just fun recruiting. It is really helping him explore where his heart is and where he can get it.”

—  BYU coach Mark Pope on Jaxson Robinson

However, while Johnson is out of eligibility, Robinson still has another season of eligibility remaining, if he wants it. The 6-foot-7 native of Ada, Oklahoma, is viewed as a possible NBA draft pick this summer if he elects to leave early.

“Well, if he’s a first-round draft pick, he’s gotta go,” Pope said. “And who knows what that means. We will find that out a lot more. Then short of that, it is just fun recruiting. It is really helping him explore where his heart is and where he can get it.”

Robinson told the Deseret News in December that he was undecided regarding his future, but most people close to the program believe he will declare for the NBA draft and turn pro at season’s end.

Related
Three BYU players are Muslim. Here’s how the Islamic holy month of Ramadan will affect their routines

“I honestly couldn’t tell you what the future holds. I am just focused on this season right now and not too focused on the future,” Robinson said in December. “Like I said, I am trying to make the NCAA Tournament this year, so that’s my main focus and just going from there.”

Interestingly, the list of Senior Night honorees does not include 6-11 power forward Noah Waterman, who is listed as a senior on BYU’s roster. Waterman has applied for an NCAA waiver to get his injury-shortened freshman season back and has opted not to be honored Saturday.

“It is not final, but we have high hopes (the waiver will be granted),” Pope said. “The high hopes are just what they are.”

It would not be unusual for a player to participate in Senior Night ceremonies, then return. Former BYU players such as Gideon George and Alex Barcello have done it recently.

“If it were me, I would be milking this. I would go two or three times,” Pope joked. “You get a fresh Minky blanket, totally NCAA approved. It is within the spending limit. You get flowers, we get to fly your family out. At some point, it is just going to be ‘last day of the season day’ and all the guys will be honored.”

There has been some speculation regarding center Aly Khalifa’s future, but last month the 6-11 passing wizard said he’s planning to return in 2024-25, barring a coaching change.


Cougars on the air

Oklahoma State (4-13, 12-18)

at No. 20 BYU (9-8, 21-9)

Saturday, 7 p.m. MST

Marriott Center

Provo, Utah

TV: ESPN+

Radio: 102.7 FM/1160 AM

“Obviously with the same coaching staff and the guys, I think I will be back. There is no question, I love it here and I got one year left and I am having the best experience of my life in college,” Khalifa said. “So hopefully I’m back. I really haven’t talked about it with coach or anybody yet.

But I believe if everything goes right I will be back here.”

Pope was also asked if Robinson will get the start in what quite likely will be the two-year Cougar’s final home game. Robinson has started in only six games and is a candidate for the Big 12′s Sixth Man of the Year.

“I actually don’t know. I have not got there yet,” said Pope, less than 24 hours after the Cougars fell 68-63 to No. 6 Iowa State in Ames, Iowa.

Johnson said the Cougars didn’t arrive back in Provo until 3 a.m.

“I like us right now. I like the way we are functioning. I will probably talk to the guys and see what they would like to do (regarding starting),” Pope said. “But it is going to be a special night. These guys that have led our team have been incredible. They have been extraordinary. Being able to lead our team through the last couple of years and through the first year in the Big 12, with everything they have accomplished, where leadership has been at the most premium than it has ever been here, it has been really special.”

BYU guards Jaxson Robinson, right, and Richie Saunders (15) hug after their victory over No. 7 Kansas.
BYU guards Jaxson Robinson, right, and Richie Saunders hug after Cougars knocked off No. 7 Kansas Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Lawrence, Kan. BYU won 76-68. | Charlie Riedel, Associated Press