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The Latest on BYU’s Pursuit of Cincinnati Transfer Mike Saunders Jr

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 07 Cincinnati at SMU Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Cincinnati transfer point guard and Wasatch Academy (Utah) product Mike Saunders Jr entered the transfer portal a couple weeks ago and has been a top priority for BYU and its staff ever since. Now, it sounds like BYU is among the final two schools.

BYU’s staff has had three Zoom calls with Saunders, with the latest one happening Monday night. Utah, ETSU, Texas A&M, Georgia, Xavier, Tulane, Marquette, UNLV, Penn State, Ohio, Toledo, South Carolina, and many others reached out to Saunders initially, but one source close to the situation told me that it’s down to BYU and UNLV.

According to Jake Weingarten of Stockrisers.com Utah had a Zoom call scheduled with Saunders last week on the same day as BYU, but Saunders kept the BYU call and rescheduled the call with Utah. It’s unclear if that call with Utah was actually rescheduled.

Alex Barcello — along with Matt Haarms — are both considering coming back, but their decision will not influence Saunders’ choice, according to sources. Saunders will be a major part of BYU’s rotation regardless of Barcello’s decision.

One source close to Saunders’ recruitment said that Monday’s Zoom call with Saunders “was really good” and that he he is getting closer to making a decision.

UNLV has been active in the portal with new coach Kevin Kruger. The Rebels have added three Big 12 transfers so far, including West Virginia point guard Jordan McCabe.

Saunders would bring a dynamic presence to the point guard position. As a true freshman this past season, he averaged 3.5 ppg and 1.4 apg. He started 10 games at the end of the season and that’s where he got more playing time. He had a season high 19 points versus Memphis late in the season where he showed off his lightning quick first step. Saunders is 6 feet tall, but he would be the quickest player on BYU’s roster and be a foundational piece for the next few season’s team.

Saunders was teammates at Wasatch with Caleb Lohner and teammates with future Cougs Fousseyni Traore and Richie Saunders. Lohner has been helping recruit his former teammate to BYU.

*UPDATE

Saunders got back to me on Wednesday when I asked who his finalists are when he expects to make a decision.

“I’m still open to whoever — I’m not going to necessarily narrow schools down. Whenever I just feel comfortable I’ll just announce, but BYU is definitely in the mix of schools. They have shown the most interest so far and I appreciate that a lot.”