As of this writing we are almost two weeks past the end of BYU’s season, which ended in Vegas in a 7-point loss to Saint Mary’s.
The only BYU player who has entered the transfer portal so far is walk-on Hao Dong. Pope is finishing exit interviews with players where they will have a discussion about their future in the program and how they fit in, but as of now I anticipate 2-3 scholarship players hitting the portal. BYU has one open scholarship right now with Rudi Williams and Gideon George graduating and 2021 signee Jake Wahlin returning from his mission, so two players entering the portal would open three spots.
Below are what I think the three things BYU has to address in the portal, all of which I think are of similar importance.
BYU needs some more scoring punch. Rudi was BYU’s second-leading scorer at 12.8 ppg and had a nice season, but he didn’t have quite the impact the whole year many hoped for. BYU will be looking to do better than Rudi in the portal this go around, and the Big 12 on paper should help BYU attract a higher caliber recruit. BYU returns a nice nucleus of guards in Spencer Johnson, Dallin Hall, and Richie Saunders, but they need to add another backcourt player that can create his own shot. BYU just didn’t have enough bucket getters this last season, so adding at least one guy in the backcourt that can really score will be paramount.
Gideon George is gone, so Jaxson Robinson is really the only wing player with good length. Richie Saunders brings 100% hustle and can be a menace on the defensive end, but BYU needs more length going into the Big 12. The Big 12 is full of 6-5 to 6-8 perimeter guys with looong winspans that will guard you 28 feet from the basket and can crash the glass. BYU needs to get another perimeter player that can make up some of the rebounding you lose with Gideon and can be a good defensive player. If he can shoot on top of that, then that is a nice bonus.
BYU needs someone else that can play the 5. Atiki had a really nice WCC tournament and Fouss was BYU’s starting center, but BYU must add another big man. Jake Wahlin is 6-foot-9 and returns home from his mission, but he is likely a four and shouldn’t be counted on to be a key piece in the Big 12 right off his mission. Noah Waterman is 6-foot-11 and can play the five in a pinch, but he is more of a stretch four.
Fouss is BYU’s best player, but he is in an odd spot as a Big 12 big man. He has a 7-foot wingspan, but at 6-foot-6 he has some deficiencies. He struggled against some of the bigger players he faced — see LMU’s 7-foot-1 Rick Issanza — and he will see big players at the 5 every night in the Big 12. BYU will do everything they can this summer to train him to play the four, but that will be tough. Fouss needs to develop consistent range offensively, but even more important, he needs to dramatically improve his lateral quickness in order to guard four men and occasionally switch on PNRs. The shooting range can be developed, but getting his lateral quickness to a spot where you feel comfortable enough that he can play the four will be tall task BYU tries to solve this offseason. How BYU plays Fouss will be a big offseason question the coaches try to answer.
Regardless, BYU needs a another big man that play the five spot. Ideally he might have some range so you can put him and Fouss on the floor at the same time, but BYU needs an impact big man that can protect the rim, rebound the ball, and put the ball in the hoop a little bit. BYU would hit the jackpot if Tolu Smith hit the portal and came to Provo, but realistically, you at a minimum need a big guy that can defend the rim and rebound.