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Early Candidates to Replace BYU Assistant Chris Burgess

NCAA Basketball: Utah Valley at Utah Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

With Chris Burgess gone to Utah, BYU now has an assistant spot to fill. Burgess was BYU’s big man coach and involved in the recruitment of many BYU players. His loss leaves big shoes to fill, and something Pope will have to move quickly on to fill his spot.

BYU has an extra layer of vetting that needs to go on since the candidates need to go through Church leadership, so I expect this search to take at least a couple of weeks.

Pope will have a longer list than what I have below, but this is what I’m hearing early from those close to BYU’s program and some names I think make sense.

Mark Madsen, UVU Head Coach

NCAA Basketball: Utah Valley at St. John Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The former NBA veteran has been the head man at UVU for the last three season after coming over as an assistant for the LA Lakers. Madsen has had ample success at UVU, including a win over BYU in Orem this last season.

It would be hard to get Madsen. He’d have to go from running his own program to being an assistant at UVU. BYU would need to throw a lot of money at Madsen and offer him the title of Associate Head Coach. Madsen’s annual salary at UVU was $225k when he was hired, but he has received a pay raise since. BYU could easily offer Madsen more money if motivated.

I see the Mark Madsen similarly in some way to Barret Peery. Peery, the former head coach at Portland State and member of the LDS church, took the associate head coaching job at Texas Tech last season after spending years as the head man at Portland State.

Is the Big 12 membership starting in 2023 enough to woo Madsen? Maybe not, but BYU should absolutely try. Madsen would bring instant credibility and a fantastic replacement for Burgess.

Kahil Fennell, Former Louisville assistant

This is the biggest off-the-radar hire from this list. Fennell was an assistant at Louisville this past season but is looking for a job after Head Coach Chris Mack left mid-season. Fennell was the director of basketball operations three years prior at Louisville before being promoted this year to assistant. He also was an assistant with Barret Peery at Portland State and spent time at the Division Two level.

Fennell has no connection to BYU and is not a member of the LDS faith, but one source told me that Fennell is a name Pope is considering. Going into the Big 12, having racial diversity and a mix of LDS and non-LDS coaches on the staff will be important. Fennell would check those boxes and brings coaching experience from the ACC.

Keep an eye on Fennell these next couple weeks.

Dave Rice, Former Washington Assistant Coach

Texas Christian University v Brigham Young University Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Rice was out of a job this last season after being an assistant at Washington from 2017-2021. Of course, he was an assistant at BYU from 2005-2011 before taking the UNLV head coaching job. Mark Pope replaced Rice as an assistant after he left.

Rice has had a lot of success as a recruiter and brings head coaching experience and familiarity with BYU. He may not be BYU’s first choice, but he would be a safe hire if BYU brought him on.

Paul Peterson, Wasatch Academy Head Coach

Peterson has been the head coach at nearby Wasatch Academy since 2018. He is a member of the LDS Church and BYU-Hawaii Alumnus. Peterson will lack in experience compared to other candidates, but he has ties to local recruiting and an obvious connection to HS powerhouse Wasatch Academy, which definitely wouldn’t hurt.

Peterson may not be the guy if BYU has to replace just one assistant, but if Nick Robinson were to also leave, I think Peterson would get a real look.