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Marquette Forward Keeyan Itejere is in the Transfer Portal — Will BYU Pursue?

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Marquette Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Marquette Forward Keeyan Itejere entered the transfer portal Monday morning. Why is this notable for BYU? Keeyan is a member of the LDS Church and has BYU connections.

A member of the 2021 recruiting class, Keeyan was rated as a 3-star prospect out of High School in Knightdale, North Carolina. Itejere initially committed to Texas, but switched his pledge to Marquette after Shaka Smart left Texas and took the Marquette job. BYU recruited Keeyan some in high school but never offered, instead taking similar prospect Atiki Ally Atiki and signing Jake Wahlin.

Keeyan came into college as an uber athletic 6-foot-9, 190 pound forward that was still very raw in terms of his basketball ability. He redshirted his first season and played in 13 total games for the Big East Champs this last season, totaling 31 minutes and 11 points on 5-5 shooting.

On the the topic of Keeyan’s athleticism, Marquette assistant Nevada Smith spoke about Keeyan during his redshirt season last year.

Smith said when Keeyan joined the program he was maybe in the “bottom 1% of all basketball shooters” but that his shooting was improving.

In the same interview he called Keeyan maybe the best athlete in college basketball.

Now two years into college, Keeyan is listed at 6-foot-9 and 215 pounds. There isn’t much college film on him, but the few clips show his elite athleticism.

What will BYU do? They will absolutely reach out to Keeyan. He is a LDS player that played two years at a P6 program. He has an older brother that attended BYU and currently lives in Provo, according to a close family friend.

BYU’s roster construction and available scholarships make things a bit tricky. As of now BYU has two scholarships to fill, although I anticipate 1-2 more opening. BYU adds 6-foot-9 Jake Wahlin from his mission, who has similar size to Keeyan. Jake isn’t the athlete Keeyan is, but his basketball skill was a bit more polished coming out of high school. Right now BYU’s front court consists of Fousseyni Traore, Atiki Ally Atiki, Noah Waterman, and Jake Wahlin. If Jake Wahlin wasn’t part of the equation then I think BYU would absolutely go all in on Keeyan.

BYU will in all likelihood add a guy that can play the five, so Keeyan may not be the only front court player BYU would add if they also want to add a true five man from the portal. Adding Jake Wahlin and Keeyan would give BYU additional size up front, but those two are more natural four men, although Keeyan could play the five at times.

BYU still needs to add at least one more guard and a wing, so potentially adding Keeyan and a five man would mean two players need to transfer out to make room for other pieces. Many fans would point to Noah Waterman, but he is the one front court player that has proven in his career he can stretch the floor. Maybe he would be out, but it’s not a no-brainer decision since Noah has a skill none of the other bigs on BYU’s roster has.

Additionally, BYU needs to consider who they want to add in the 2024 class. Collin Chandler returns home from his mission and BYU is looking to add three freshman — Malick Diallo, Isaac Davis, Brody Kozlowski — to the class. All of those are front court players (Brody maybe at the three) and all three may not go on missions. Malick is not a member, so he obviously won’t. It’s not a guarantee BYU will add all three 2024 guys, but they are pursuing all of them.

Spencer Johnson and Noah Waterman are the only two seniors whose scholarships come off the books, so BYU could have a scholarship surplus of two if all four of those freshmen come into the program — you could have a surplus of three if Noah transferred out and was replaced with an underclassman. Keeyan could be a great addition, but adding him means another player would likely need to transfer out this year and potentially next year to create room for any incoming freshmen. That may not be a blocker, but it’s a consideration.

All that being said, Keeyan would be a value add for BYU. He has elite athleticism, and I would like to see BYU with a stable of athletic front court players that can rebound and defend rather than a glut of guards. Athletes of Keeyan’s caliber that are potentially interested in BYU don’t come around often. Keeyan’s offensive development is important for the rest of his college career, but at a minimum he has the athleticism to guard 1-5 defensively. He has a lot of Gavin Baxter in him (hopefully minus the injuries). Keeyan will be a redshirt sophomore this upcoming season with three years of eligibility remaining.

As other transfers enter the portal the coming weeks, it will be interesting to see what BYU coaches do. They will reach out to Keeyan and I would like to see him at BYU, but as I outlined above, there are factors to consider.

Also, Keeyan isn’t a slam dunk to come to BYU by any means! He’s LDS and has a brother in Provo, but Utah isn’t home for him. Other high major schools will pursue, and Keeyan could decide another school is a better fit for him. BYU has some naturals advantages in its favor, but we’ll see how things play out over the coming weeks.

The upside for Keeyan is undeniable and he could be a home run addition at his next school.