Last night was supposed to be like Christmas for BYU Basketball fans. Payton Dastrup, a highly-touted basketball recruit and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was making his decision on where he would play his college basketball and all signs pointed to the Cougars. The stage was set for BYU to snatch up the four-star power forward and beat national powerhouses, Florida and Ohio State, in the process. But then Dastrup cancelled Christmas when he chose the Buckeyes.
The 6'9" 218-pound Dastrup selected Ohio State over the other three schools he had previously narrowed his selection down to: BYU, Florida, and Virginia. He also received offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Boston College, Kansas, Texas A&M, UC Davis, UNLV, USC, Utah, and Utah State.
Dastrup choosing Ohio State over BYU is the biggest recruiting disappointment in recent history for the Cougars. While some might argue that Jabari Parker's decision to play for the Duke Blue Devils over BYU deserves that designation, the overwhelming national sentiment was that Parker wouldn't end up with the Cougars. On the flip side, the sentiment surrounding Dastrup was that he was BYU's to lose.
While Dastrup's decision does hurt, it is not the end of the world. It would have been exciting to see Dastrup suit up for the Cougars, but BYU's cupboards aren't bare. The Cougars already have three four-star recruits between the 2013 and 2014 recruiting classes in Eric Mika, Nick Emery, and TJ Haws. The Cougars have a number of promising big men either committed, on missions, or in this season's freshman class. That list includes Mika, Luke Worthington, Isaac Nielson, Braiden Shaw, Jakob Hartsock, and Ryan Andrus. Add to that list the talented group of point guards and wing players the Cougars have recruited over the past few years and BYU will be just fine without Dastrup.
Don't completely count out Dastrup just yet either. The talented big man plans to serve a two-year mission for the LDS Church before enrolling at Ohio State. The Buckeyes have promised to hold Dastrup's scholarship during that time, but count me as someone who is not completely convinced that Thad Matta will hold up his end of that bargain. Ohio State will need to have its 2016 recruiting class pretty much wrapped up by the time Dastrup would be getting home from his mission. Having not seen Dastrup play in two-years, don't be surprised if the Buckeyes have a chance to give Dastrup's scholarship to a higher or even similarly rated prospect in that class and elect to do so.
With all that said the biggest mark against BYU Basketball's recruiting pitch remains the West Coast Conference. BYU's move to independence in football has been a great move for the football team, but the fallout from that has had negative effects on the basketball program. The WCC's top programs have proved to be top level competition for the Cougars, but the league lacks the competition from top to bottom that even the Mountain West Conference provided BYU. Unless BYU can find a way to get all of its athletic programs into the Big 12, this isn't an issue that will be going away anytime soon and there isn't a lot Dave Rose and his staff can do about it.
What do you think about the future of BYU Basketball going forward without Dastrup?