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When Collin Chandler elected to follow Mark Pope to Kentucky, new coach Kevin Young needed a bell-ringing move to replace one of the top recruits in BYU history. He got it over the weekend when 6-foot-9 Egor Demin reportedly accepted a BYU offer following play in the EuroLeague for Real Madrid. The report came from ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski.

Demin is expected to be a 2025 lottery pick, one of the top 14 players in the NBA draft next year. This is a huge development for BYU basketball. Demin can play both the point and shooting guard positions and could be a nasty matchup when he posts up against shorter guards in the Big 12. He is a proven athlete on the world stage in the EuroLeague. Some say this signing would be like BYU getting a McDonald’s All-American top 10 player in the U.S.

BYU has had a handful of lottery-pick-type basketball talent, including Danny Ainge, Michael Smith, Shawn Bradley and Kresimir Cosic. Ainge and Jimmer Fredette earned national player of the year honors in college (Naismith Award), and Cosic is in the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield.

While it’s too early to lay too much at the feet of Demin, who is just 18, it is the realm in which he’s played on a national level that projects his NBA lottery status. The NBA has consistently looked at EuroLeague players to fill out the first round in the draft. Demin is well-acquainted with such play and players, and it appears so is Young with his NBA background and contacts.

It is interesting that while BYU chased and was turned down by the top players in the college transfer portal, Young had his eye on international players to fill his needs as part of his plan. Demin is as versatile a ballhandler, facilitator, defender and scorer as the Cougars could have expected just months after the Young hire. In fact, he’s a home run.

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Demin can easily play both the point and shooting guard spots and will see his playing time adjusted as he moves around in different roles on the court. Remember how Pope used Spencer Johnson to post up other guards? Well, Demin could fill that role far more effectively because of his ballhandling, height, speed, vision and shooting acumen.

The other aspect of this prospect is Young fulfilling his promise to make BYU a place where NBA talent could develop and grow their game before moving onto the big leagues. Young is tapping into a resource the Cougar program hasn’t been able to choose from since the days of Cosic amnd Timo Saarelainen, a member of the Finnish National team.

It is tough to remember when BYU last recruited and signed a projected lottery pick. Demin can matriculate at BYU this fall and winter and earn NIL money while he waits for the 2025 draft. In the meantime, Young can deliver a promise to put him through a regime that will help him in the NBA combine. It’s a brilliant two-way avenue that helps both.

The reaction to the Demin news was swift and big on social media.

One would think that BYU’s ability to come to terms with an NIL package that Demin found attractive played a major part in the deal. And that alone speaks volumes where BYU intents to find its recruiting base in the future — discussing big deals with big-time talent.

The Demin addition will certainly bump BYU up in the higher echelon of the Big 12 recruiting class of 2024 with the additions of Brody Kozlowski and Elijah Crawford, both four-star players.

Cougar Insiders predictions

Question of the week: Utah Jazz owner and big BYU booster Ryan Smith told a group of fathers and sons at a BYU retreat that whatever Kevin Young needed to build BYU basketball, he would get. What does this mean and have you seen it since Young’s hire?

Dave McCann: Booster support.

The Cougar Club has provided a solid foundation for fundraising at BYU. My dad played a key part of its development for 25 years leading up to his death in 1998. I’ve watched it grow from a small group to one of the biggest booster organizations west of the Mississippi.

Since there is no church money used to finance athletics at BYU, donors have always been crucial and even more so today as NIL changes the landscape in ways we have never seen before.

Providers like Ryan Smith, and several others like him, are “next level” donors that can help in an unplanned-for coaching hire like Kevin Young and his staff, or to attract transfer portal prospects like Keba Keita and those who will join him in the coming weeks.

Next-level donors like Smith are crucial, and BYU has more than one. Mark Comer of the Royal Blue Collective said recently on the “Y’s Guys” podcast that BYU ranks among the top 15 programs in the country when it comes to NIL resources for men’s basketball.

BYU isn’t going to jump into a bidding war for a player’s services, but they can serve up a competitive offer to give the Cougars a fighting chance. When boosters like Smith say, “Whatever Kevin Young needs, he will get,” he speaks beyond those with the deepest pockets to also include the Cougar Club members who have been contributing for decades.

Over the years, the combination of donors, big and small, built LaVell Edwards Stadium, the Marriott Center, the Student Athletic Building and Indoor Practice Facility. Some names are freely heralded while others donate away from the spotlight. To tell the story far and wide, an athletic program needs both. It also needs thousands of boosters who give what they can.

As a result, the Cougars are very much in the game when it comes to “whatever Kevin Young needs to build BYU basketball.”

Dick Harmon: I believe there’s always been a kind of dam waiting to break when it comes to BYU athletic funding. The donors have been there, able and willing, but their resources have also been funneled, earmarked and spread around as to prevent robbing Peter to pay Paul. Nothing wrong with that for organizational purposes and fairness. But I sense there is a new ability with fundraising to target needs of the cash cows, football and basketball.

The era of NIL has forced athletic departments around the country to rethink how they use money and how they treat those who give, making sure their contributions are going toward their desired uses. I think the advent of Big 12 payout money, which will reach a full share in 2025, has enabled BYU to do some exciting things, as we’ve seen in football with the hiring of additional experienced analysts like former USU, Oregon State and Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen.

In basketball, Kevin Young has been swinging for the fence in recruiting. He used NIL adjustments in the collective to attract back Richie Saunders and Dallin Hall. He sealed a deal with Utah transfer center Keba Keita, signed Stanford signee Elijah Crawford and reportedly will bring in a 6-foot-9 Russian guard from Real Madrid’s squad, a potential lottery pick next year in the NBA.

These kinds of moves do not happen unless Young has the resources to get in the door and attract attention with the support of a major assist by its NIL collective. Young and his staff have already made scholarship offers to some of the top high school talent in the country, wedging a foot in the door early and getting on their individual radar and calendar books.

Bottom line is BYU is serious about its role in the Big 12, a fifth-place finish a year ago with Mark Pope. Now they’re going after and competing with players that Pope is chasing at Kentucky. This is not the modus operandi of a school that’s settling for mediocrity with its new coach.

Cougar tales

Six BYU women track athletes qualified for nationals after breaking personal and school records. The event will be next week in Eugene, Oregon. BYU men qualified athletes in five events. Sprinter Jaslyn Gardner impressively became one of the best sprinters in school history in qualifying for nationals. You can read about her efforts here.

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Extra points

Fanalysts

Comments from Deseret News readers:

Nice! BYU has got some good momentum. Way faster than I thought being they’re so new to the P5. It took Utah years to pick up this much steam in football and they haven’t picked it up in basketball yet.

It’s the first time in a decade the Y is outrecruiting the U in football instate. Looks to me like even with KS as head coach the Y will be competing with the U in football with in three years and byu basketball is clearly ahead of the U in about every measure in bball.

Utah took advantage of P5 status and has been big brother for awhile. Looks like it’s changing. Will it be like the 80s and early 90s for the Y. I doubt it but it does look like they will be able to get the recruitment they used to enjoy before Utah started taking them because of their P5 status…

— Y_Ute

Query what Whittingham’s future looks like. He’s done a masterful job creating an effective football brand of deep, big and tough D front 7s and a decent QB with able tailbacks and receivers on offense. For years I’ve thought that Utah would be in the conversation for the national title or the playoffs when that started.

BYU is now signing players who had reduced their choices down to it and Utah, on the grounds at least in part that Coach Kyle’s future being unpredictable is a big deal. I wonder if this continues. Although not a crazy nut fan, I like Utah and root for them. I’d like Kyle’s boys to have a shot at the championship before he hangs it up. I’ll bet his kids would play especially tough for him. I’d like to see one of his good teams play and whip Alabama, Ohio St, Georgia, etc. in the setting of the national semis or finals, but he may be running out of time.

Mowigli

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June 5-8 | Track & Field | NCAA Outdoor Championships | Eugene, Oregon