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National Media Members Predict and Preview BYU Basketball

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UCLA v BYU Photo by Brett Wilhelm/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

As of this writing, we are exactly one week away from BYU’s regular season opener November 9th versus a sneaky good Cleveland State team in the Marriott Center. BYU isn’t ranked in the preseason polls, but they are getting a healthy amount of respect from national media members after coming off a season where they received a 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament and Alex Barcello returning.

We roundup some of the takes from around the country previewing BYU Hoops.

36. BYU: Well-balanced. Doesn’t make a habit of beating itself with the small stuff. Mark Pope is a rising star in coaching. The Cougars will again be Gonzaga’s toughest test in the WCC (we only have two more years of this before BYU goes to the Big 12). Alex Barcello has an outside shot at being an All-American if he can improve upon his averages (16.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.3 apg on 47.7% from 3-point range) and push BYU to a single-digit seed. It’s not unthinkable. The Cougars have some nice balance with TeJon Lucas playing shooting guard, Gideon George emerging at the 3 and leading rebounder Caleb Lohner playing power forward.

1. BYU

2. Utah State

3. Utah

4. Southern Utah

5. Weber State

6. Utah Valley

7. Dixie State

State of the state: Mark Pope will continue to keep BYU interesting and relevant — so much so that the Cougars should comfortably rank as the best in the Beehive State in 2021-22.

22. BYU goes for three straight top-20 finishes

It isn’t the national TV sensation it was when Jimmer Fredette was firing up threes, but the BYU men’s program has had success under Mark Pope not seen since Jimmer. Pope inherited a ton of talent in Year 1, but had to reload on the fly entering last year and still led the Cougars to a No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament and a top-20 KenPom finish. This year, star point guard Alex Barcello returns for his fifth year of eligibility, while transfers Te’Jon Lucas (Milwaukee) and Seneca Knight (San Jose State) should further boost a dynamic backcourt.

14. Alex Barcello, BYU

Mark Pope runs beautiful offense, and he has an awesome player in Barcello, who is one of the most efficient scorers in college hoops. Last season he nearly joined the 40/50/90 club, shooting 47.7 percent from 3, 52.3 percent from the field and 85.6 percent from the free-throw line. You have to stay attached to him because he has a quick release. Close too hard and he’s smart at putting it on the floor and getting to his spots.

85. Alex Barcello | BYU | Senior

Barcello averaged a team-high 16.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists last season after transferring from Arizona following his sophomore year. The 6-2 guard has shot at least 47% from 3-point range in each of the past two years. His true shooting percentage of 64.7% last season ranked 41st nationally.

Alex Barcello, who started his collegiate career at Arizona, had a breakout senior season in which he was named a first-team All-WCC selection after averaging 16.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.0 steal per game. His 47.2 3-point percentage ranked 15th nationally, and he was also effective at drawing fouls; he attempted 3.5 free throws for every 10 field goal attempts and he shot 85 percent from the free-throw line.

First-round matchups:

Liberty vs. Northern Iowa

Wyoming vs. Stanford

BYU vs. South Florida

Hawaii vs. Vanderbilt

Team to beat: BYU. Mark Pope lost some key players but star Alex Barcello (16.1 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 4.3 APG, 47.7% from the 3-point line) could be the most dominant player — apologies to Vandy’s Scotty Pippen Jr. (20.8 PPG) — in this event. Plus, Milwaukee transfer Te’Jon Lucas (14.9 PPG, 5.8 APG) should make an immediate impact, too.