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As you may have noticed, I’m authoring the Cougar Insiders newsletter this week as Dick Harmon enjoys some time away.

Speaking of which, I have been on vacation and out of the country for the past three weeks, visiting my daughter, son-in-law and new granddaughter in Italy and touring other European countries for most of the month of May.

My access to the internet was spotty, at best, as my wife and I spent a lot of time on a tour bus between major European cities such as Brussels, Paris, Venice, Rome and London before getting in some relaxing time at our daughter’s place in Vicenza, Italy.

Hence, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do as far as BYU basketball is concerned. Seems like new coach Kevin Young has made a year’s worth of headlines in just one month.

Be it the headline-grabbing additions of Russian star Egor Demin, four-star prep prospects Brody Kozlowski and Elijah Crawford and Rutgers transfer Mawot Mag, or the news that the No. 1 prep recruit in the country visited BYU on Monday, Young continues to make splash after splash.

Speaking of five-star forward AJ Dybantsa’s visit, it comes with the blessing from his parents — who visited BYU’s campus last month without their son and evidently were so impressed that they insisted he take a good, long look for himself.

KSL Sports reported Tuesday that it was an unofficial visit and that Dybantsa hopes to return on an official visit at a later date.

Dybantsa won’t be far from Provo this season.

He will play at the relatively new Utah Prep in the southern Utah town of Hurricane his senior year and is believed by many to be a one-and-done type prospect, perhaps in the same category as the aforementioned Demin.

Some outlets are projecting Dybantsa as a potential No. 1 pick in the 2026 NBA draft. Given Dybantsa’s lofty ranking and the types of programs that are also pursuing him, BYU has to be considered somewhat of a long shot for the 6-foot-8 star’s services. But stranger things have happened. Demin is a prime example of that.

If Young can land the young man who has been starring in Massachusetts, Cougar fans should start commissioning a statue of Young — if the new coach ever decides to stand still for a few moments in his dizzying first year on the job.

Cougar Insiders predictions

Question of the week: While the hype for BYU’s basketball program has seemingly reached an all-time high this offseason, it is just the opposite for BYU’s football program. What do you make of that unusual turn of events in Provo?

Dave McCann: A tug-of-war between Kalani Sitake and Kevin Young would be short-lived in favor of the former fullback and head football coach. However, if commandeering the news cycle was a competition, the battle would be leaning toward the new basketball coach.

Young’s headlines seem to be coming every day. In just the last week, he signed a projected NBA lottery pick, a four-star grad transfer and hired an assistant who is well seasoned in both domestic and international basketball.

The transformation has been stunning. Young was hired a few days after former coach Mark Pope skipped town for Kentucky and took the program’s top recruit with him. Dallin Hall, Richie Saunders, Aly Khalifa, Atiki Ally Atiki and Jaxson Robinson entered the transfer portal, and BYU disappeared from any positive projections for next season.

Even as he continued coaching the Suns in the NBA playoffs, Young went to work to bring Hall and Saunders back to the program. He has since hired assistants Chris Burgess (Utah), Brandon Dunson (Stanford) and Will Voigt (Austin Spurs) and chief of staff Doug Stewart (Nevada).

Young signed Keba Keita (Utah) and Mawot Mag (Rutgers) from the transfer portal and brought in a trio of highly touted freshman — five-star guard Egor Demin, four-star guard Elijah Crawford and four-star forward Brody Kozlowski. Even with two more scholarships to fill, and with his BYU debut not until November, Young has turned the Cougars’ frown upside down.

Sitake is thrilled to see what Young has been doing and he has no problem sharing the spotlight. He watched his own program experience a lift after the 2022 season when Jay Hill came on board as his defensive coordinator.

Summer conditioning is ongoing. The Cougars have added a player here and there from the portal, but for the most part, they are set with what they have and Sitake feels good about the roster. The team reports to camp next month (July 30) and with their first season in the Big 12 behind them, Sitake has a better idea of what they will face this fall.

Unlike basketball, the football roster isn’t getting a complete makeover nor the coverage that accompanies it. They are just trying to get the guys they have bigger, stronger and faster, and that might be easier to do while being out of sight and out of mind as basketball basks in the spotlight.

Sitake knows that the attention, and the heat, will return in late August when his Cougars storm out of the locker room at LaVell Edwards Stadium to kick off a new season.

Jay Drew: I spoke to Sitake for a few minutes about this topic prior to Monday’s golf event at Hidden Valley Country Club, and the coach was as excited as anybody else for the basketball program and what Young has been able to accomplish in his short time in Provo.

Sitake expressed a quiet confidence that his football team will be improved in 2024, even if it hasn’t been as active in the transfer portal as much since spring camp ended in late March. I will have more on what Sitake had to say in articles later this week.

Coverage of Sitake’s program will ramp up later this month, as the Cougars conduct a media day, of sorts, on June 24 after a golf outing at Cedar Hills Golf Club. The Big 12 football media days, July 9-10 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, will also produce a flurry of BYU football and Big 12 news, obviously.

Cougar tales

BYU football coach Kalani Sitake captained a team of four golfers who downed Utah coach Kyle Whittingham’s team by one shot in the annual Rivalry for Charity tournament at Draper’s Hidden Valley Country Club on Monday. Read more about Sitake’s team, which included a current BYU golf star and a former BYU quarterback, here.

From the archives

BYU’s future requires a paradigm shift away from ‘old school’ thinking
This former BYU golfer just qualified to play in the U.S. Open next week at famed Pinehurst
BYU basketball has hired its fifth and final assistant coach

From the X-verse

  • Former BYU LB Kyle Van Noy’s golf tournament (KVN_03)
  • Kyle Collinsworth weighs in on basketball hype (collinsworth55)
  • Former Cougar Andy Reid on Taylor Swift (JustGambles14)

Extra points

  • Kevin Young adds more NBA experience to his coaching staff (Deseret News)
  • Two BYU baseball products have made it to the Big Leagues (Deseret News)
  • Can BYU’s Kingsley Suamataia earn a starting role with the Kansas City Chiefs? (Deseret News)


Comments from Deseret News readers:

Best wishes to Jaxson (Robinson) and may he find the path he has wanted to be on to complete his preparation to enter the NBA. We will still enjoy watching him play at the next level and expect nothing but continued growth and success as a talented B-Ball Master!


— Cougarfan

I am very excited about the upcoming basketball season. My biggest concern is that we keep our moral integrity and do not go the way of other big-time programs and sell out to the highest prospect at any cost. I want us to win, go to the Final Four, but not at any cost. Our name, BYU, the school of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, means more than any win in any sport.


Up next

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

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