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Kevin Young’s first week as BYU’s head basketball coach, without the conflict of being an NBA assistant, began by attending the Big 12 coaches spring meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona. Meanwhile, the assistant coach he announced, Brandon Dunson, has been on a recruiting blitz to five cities as both have put in 15- to 20-hour days.

Young has attacked issues of roster retention, recruiting the class of 2025, hiring a staff, getting Dunson on board and involved, and etching out a specific development plan for each player while allocating Big 12 resources now at his disposal.

Cougar Insider’s predictions

Question of the week: What are your impressions of Kevin Young’s first two weeks as BYU basketball coach?

Jay Drew: Kevin Young has accomplished his first major task at BYU — keeping the band together as much as possible — so my impression of his first couple of weeks as BYU’s basketball is mostly favorable. How can it not be?

That Young was able to keep Richie Saunders and Dallin Hall from bolting for higher-profile programs and higher NIL offerings, if my sources are correct, is remarkable. Credit BYU for moving decisively — for them — in getting Young at the helm even though he had that unfinished business left with the Phoenix Suns. It probably helped the Cougars retain the aforementioned stars.

How can Young keep on impressing? Getting four-star prospect Brody Kozlowski to flip from USC to BYU was a start. So was signing up an experienced assistant from Stanford, Brandon Dunson. So far, so good. Seventeen days ago, when Mark Pope jumped to Kentucky and Aly Khalifa, Saunders and Hall hit the transfer portal, BYU’s future looked kinda bleak.

That’s no longer the case.

Dick Harmon: While waiting for Young to complete his staff and possibly a recruit signing or two, the most impressive thing I’ve noted as he finished his final days with the Phoenix Suns is how he set assistant coach Brandon Dunson loose swinging for the fence on recruits. Within days of furious contacts and calls, Young and Dunson offered at least four top high school players in the class of 2025 who are four-star and five-star.

Young personally took a four-star guard on a campus visit a week ago. The player, JJ Mandaquit, is the No. 49-rated player in the class of 2025. He played for the Utah Prospects with four-star commit Kozlowski. Young and Dunson made offers to five-star 2025 guard Brayden Burries from Roosevelt High in San Bernardino, California; four-star guard Jalin Holland at Los Lunas, New Mexico; five-star guard Isiah Harwell at Wasatch Academy via Idaho, a 2025 guy; and four-star forward Nikolas Khamenia, who is a 2025 top-49 player out of Harvard Westlake High in Studio City, California.

To make these kinds of pitches to this level of recruits tells me Young is not only “on it” but he’s got some serious NIL backing him up or BYU’s philosophy of networking corporate mentors is gaining momentum.

Cougar tales

Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs take Kingsley Suamataia in the NFL draft. Here’s what Reid said to Suamataia after the pick.

BYU basketball went from a big question mark to a little more sanity when Richie Saunders announced he would return to play for Kevin Young. Shortly after, starting point guard Dallin Hall followed. Jaxson Robinson declared for the NBA draft and put his name in the transfer portal, explaining he was doing so to put out feelers for a pro career and keep the door open to return to college, possibly back at BYU and finish with his roommate Hall. In women’s hoops, former Cougar Nani Falatea will go to Oregon. Atiki Ally Atiki put his name in the transfer portal.

In women’s hoops, Buffalo transfer Hattie Ogden signed with the Cougars, as did Santa Clara transfer Marya Hudgins.

In other news, Jaslyn Gardner broke two school records at the BYU Invitational last weekend. Also, Sebastian Fernandez broke his own 800-meter stadium record over the weekend.

From the archives

Kevin Young’s first 10 days at BYU prove productive, tell a story
‘There are two BYUs?’: Kaylee Smiler went from not knowing about Provo’s BYU to getting a master’s degree there

From the X-verse

Extra points


Comments from Deseret News readers:

Coach Young was not listed as the No. 1 assistant in the NBA and a candidate for several head coaching jobs for nothing. True, the Suns went out 0-4, but not sure it was his fault. A player might want to work with a coach who knows what a player needs to get in the NBA. But it’s a business now like it or not. So far coach Young seems to be doing very well. Considering the team Pope brought from a 7-9 record in the WCC to fifth place in the Big 12 I thought he did a pretty good job.

— What in Tucket

Tom Holmoe should be getting a lot of credit for keeping BYU basketball from slipping under the waves. He knew that Pope could leave with short notice, and he was ready. He knew where to go to get a coach that met BYU’s unique requirements and expectations. He and Santiago and others knew what to do to rebuild the team. Young wasn’t left in the dark to figure things out on his own. He was given leadership and responded by closing the deals. This is solid major college sports work. The Cougars may never get to a Final Four, but they are playing with the big boys and not getting pushed around. Respect.

— rcf

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