The dog days of summer may be known as the “dead season” of the sports calendar, but don’t let that fool you — BYU’s basketball coaching staff have been hard at work on the recruiting trail all summer long.
Some have criticized the program for getting a bit complacent on the trail in recent years — rarely looking beyond Utah’s homegrown talent pool and sometimes waiting too long to offer promising prospects.
Those critiques may or may not be fair, but it certainly seems the Cougars have picked up the pace over the past few months. Whether it’s the presence of new assistant Heath Schroyer or a renewed sense of urgency following a disappointing season, BYU has been motivated to cast a wide net: the program currently has seven offers out to prospects in the next three classes, many of whom do not fit the stereotypical BYU recruiting profile.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the players being courted by the Cougars.
Class of 2018
3 Stars | 6-foot-8 | Power Forward | Midlothian, TX
Notable Offers: Wichita State, Oklahoma, San Diego State, Iowa State, TCU, Cincinnati
Lee had a unique path into BYU’s line of sight: He kind of wandered there all by himself. The long, athletic big man’s stepmother happens to live in Utah. He watched a few BYU games on TV and figured he’d reach out to learn more about the program, which led to an unofficial campus visit earlier this summer.
While he looks primarily like an interior dunk machine right now from available highlight clips, the Midlothian High School product has been picking up offers left and right — he had 13 at last count — after an impressive summer on the AAU circuit, including a standout performance at the prestigious Pangos All-American Camp.
Class of 2019
4 Stars | 6-foot-10 | Power Forward | American Fork, UT
Notable Offers: Gonzaga, Stanford, Utah
This is the big one. Johnson was the only prospect listed here to hold a BYU offer before the summer began, and for good reason: He’s a prospect the Cougars simply must have. A rising junior, the America Fork standout is among the best players in the country. He’s currently ranked 34th nationally in the class of 2019 by Scout, 35th by ESPN and 37th by Rivals.
He’s the real deal, and his game is tailor-made for BYU’s style of play: a “stretch four” with incredible range and accuracy on his jumper, enough skills and athleticism to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim, and enough length to be a factor defensively. (Think of him as a more athletic and mobile Kyle Wiltjer.)
Throw in the fact that he’s LDS and lives in the Cougars’ backyard and it’s clear that BYU can’t afford to miss on Johnson. They offered him early, which sends a great message, but with Gonzaga, Stanford and Utah circling now, Dave Rose and his staff will likely have a dogfight on their hands for the foreseeable future.
4 Stars | 6-foot-8 | Power Forward | Mount Herman, MA
Notable Offers: VCU, Penn State, Seton Hall, Saint Louis
Lorca-Lloyd may not be getting as much love as Johnson from the recruiting services, but he’s getting his fair share: the spidery big man from Massachusetts is currently ranked 69th and 95th in the 2019 class by Scout and Rivals, respectively. His game looks remarkably similar to Lee’s at this point — all dunks and not a ton else yet — but he’s still got two years of high school and AAU ball ahead of him that should round out his game nicely. His length and athleticism certainly make him a high-upside prospect, and it should only be a matter of time before more big-name programs start offering. Another good move by the Cougars to get in early here.
Joe Girard III
3 Stars | 6-foot-2 | Shooting Guard | Glens Falls, NY
Notable Offers: Penn State, Washington, Boston College, St. John’s, UMass, George Washington
BYU fans have already heard enough talk of someone being “the next Jimmer” to last a lifetime — but what does one more hurt? Enter Joe Girard III, who may fit the profile better than anyone could possibly hope to.
A similarly sized gunner from Fredette’s own alma mater, Girard’s shoot-first-ask-questions-later style and lightning-quick release feels like vintage Jimmer. He’s currently on pace to shatter New York’s state scoring record by a wide margin — in only his junior season. And if you squint your eyes just right when Girard uses a ball screen and pulls up for a deep pull-up jumper at the 0:50 mark of the video above, you might just see visions of 2011 dancing in your head.
None of this is coincidental: Girard has grown up idolizing his hometown’s hero, he’s spent time working out privately with the man himself, and Jimmer has even taken an active role in his college recruitment. (Yes, that’s how BYU got involved here.) “JG3” may or may not be the heir to the throne, and we may never get to find out for sure. But when the most iconic player in school history tells you to recruit the kid and says he’s “way ahead of what I was at his age,” it sure feels like something worth exploring.
Class of 2020
N/A | 6-foot-3 | Point Guard | Las Vegas, NV
Notable Offers: Utah, Washington, UNLV
It’s super early to be offering kids in the class of 2020 — after all, they just finished their freshman year — but it’s never too early to identify good talent. Taitz is a shooter who earned himself playing time at national power Bishop Gorman in his first season, which is no small feat. He’s likely to grow into his body and ability more as he ages, but the ankle-breaking game-winner he executes here gives a glimpse of his potential.
N/A | 6-foot-7 | Shooting Guard | Flower Mound, TX
Notable Offers: None
If you want to get really excited about a 15-year-old who may someday play basketball in Provo, Lohner could be your best bet. He’s already 6-foot-7 as a rising sophomore, and his game is completely perimeter-oriented and surprisingly refined. (Not to mention he has some truly legendary hair.)
Lohner’s not afraid to use his size to finish through contact, and he also has the ball-handling and quickness to get to the rim off the bounce, a smooth 3-point stroke, and the athleticism to hammer home the occasional alley-oop to boot. Again, he was doing all of this as a freshman.
BYU was his first offer and should be well-positioned to compete here (Lohner is a member of the LDS Church), but I don’t imagine they’ll be alone in their pursuit for long.
N/A | Class of 2020 | Point Guard | Smithfield, UT
Notable Offers: Utah State
BYU just offered Falslev last week on an unofficial visit. The Sky View standout had a strong freshman season, averaging 13.8 points and being the only first-year player named to the Standard-Examiner’s all-area first team alongside some of the best players in the state. He’s the cousin of former football player JD Falslev, so there’s a BYU connection there already. It’ll be worth watching his growth and development in the coming years, as he projects to become one of Utah’s premier prep scorers.