As we get close to August, BYU’s roster has been pretty close to being set since Ques Glover committed back on May 3. Tanner Toolson entered the transfer portal May 9, and since then BYU has officially had one scholarship open.
Who will BYU target with the last scholarship?
Petras Padegimas was the closest BYU has been to filling the last spot. Petras really liked BYU and took an official visit, but he ultimately decided to sign with Dayton. Petras was having a hard time obtaining a release from UCF from his NLI he signed back in November, and sources tell me that UCF granting the released was partially contingent on him going to a school not in conference (i.e., the Big 12).
One question to consider — will BYU even fill the last scholarship? They would like to and I think they will, but it’s not necessarily a guarantee. Sources close to the program have told me BYU is still trying to add a difference maker. You maybe be saying, “well, duh” to yourself, but it’s not that clean cut. If BYU was simply trying to fill a scholarship, they could have done that by now. There are tons of freshmen, both domestic and international, who would come to BYU. BYU has been targeting a lot of international players who would be incoming freshman, but it needs to be the right fit.
Consider the 2024 class. Isaac Davis is committed, and BYU has offered Malick Diallo and Brody Kozlowski who will join their programs right after high school. Those are all front court players and BYU is trying to add a front court player with the last 2023 spot, so adding a guy who will be a sophomore when those guys start in 2024 could give Malick and Brody something to think about when considering BYU. That’s one more player they potentially have to compete for minutes against for several years.
So if BYU is to add a freshman, I think it needs to be someone you know can be a difference maker, not just a body that gives goes guys a reason to go elsewhere and gives you a logjam of front court scholarships in 2024. BYU currently has 3 front court players with two years of eligibility remaining — Fouss, Atiki, and Khalifa — and potentially another player with two years left if Noah Waterman pursues a medical redshirt. Isaac Davis will join the program next year, and depending on what Malick and Brody do, BYU could have a glut of front court players in 2024. Adding a true freshman to that mix could take away a potential spot for one of the 2024 guys you are pursuing.
With that being said, here are a couple names to monitor.
Alexis Yetna — Seton Hall
The 6-foot-8, 225 pounds forward will be entering his seventh year of college next season (you read that right). Yetna has had two season-ending injuries during his college career, including a knee injury that forced him to miss all of last season. When healthy, Yetna has been a good player. As a redshirt freshman at South Florida in 2018-2019, Yetna averaged 12.8 points and 9.6 boards on 37% shooting from three. He transferred to Seton Hall before the 2021-2022 season, and averaged 8 points and 7.6 boards in his one healthy season there.
Yetna entered the transfer portal back in April and took official visits to West Virginia and Ole Miss, but it appears those schools have passed due to health concerns. Sources tell me BYU has talked to Yetna and his camp, but BYU’s side also has some hesitation to pursue Yetna due to his health concerns. There is a chance he may not be ready to play until December.
Yetna isn’t a top priority for BYU, but he’s someone I’m monitoring. He’s a risk for sure, but I think he could be a worthwhile risk at this point. BYU’s in a good spot where their roster is essentially sit and they don’t NEED a certain player. I like Yetna for a few reasons — 1) he’s a one-year guy, so he doesn’t take a scholarship after this season and you’re not stuck with his scholarship if he doesn’t work out. 2) You need front court depth, and if he’s healthy enough to get on the court by Big 12 play, you at least have another player at the 4/5 spot that can give you some minutes if needed. 3) If he plays close to his ability of when he was healthy, you have a great rebounder that can move well defensively and stretch the floor.
Unless you get a really good freshman, which may be hard at this juncture, I prefer adding a one-year player that can add some front court depth. Yetna isn’t the ideal player due to his injury concerns, but I think he’s worth considering.
Lazar Djokovic — Serbia
I’ve got questions about the 6-foot-9 forward. Djokovic is a member of the 2023 class and is one of the few freshman I think could be a real difference maker. BYU is recruiting him, and Lazar told me BYU is one of the schools he is considering along with Kansas, Xavier, Utah, and a few others. He’s a versatile forward that can shoot outside and drive the rim.
Don’t hold your breath, however. A source close to Lazar told me that BYU is unlikely. UCLA is making a big push as well, and he is likely to go elsewhere.
Andy Sigiscar — France
The athletic French forward was considering BYU, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll have the requisite TOEFL score (English language exam) to get into BYU. A source not connected with BYU told me that BYU has higher requirements for the TOEFL than most other schools.
There are several other players BYU is talking to, but at this time I’m not sure which ones have moved towards the top of the pack.
BYU heads to Italy and Croatia starting in mid-August, and ideally you’d like to have that last spot filled by then.
The Big 12 released it’s conference pairings a week ago. BYU will play 18 Big 12 conference games and 13 non-league games. Below is what I know so far about the non-conference schedule.
11/1 (Exhibition) — vs Life Pacific (Home)
11/10 — San Diego State (Home)
11/18 — Morgan State (Home)
12/1 — vs Fresno State (SLC)
12/5 — Evansville (Home)
12/9 — at Utah (Road)
12/16 — Georgia State (Home)
12/20 — Bellarmine (Home)
TBD — Denver (Home)
That is 10 of the 13 games. Mark Pope told Kevin Reynolds of The Salt Lake Tribune last week that BYU has just one more game left to fill. I’m not sure who the other two teams BYU has scheduled, but I suspect that they are two “buy” games in Provo. Out of BYU’s 31 games, 17 or 18 of them should be in the Marriott Center.
I wrote a couple weeks ago about the five 2024 guys BYU has offered. BYU has a real shot at all five. AAU season is wrapping up, and September-October will be a big official visit month before the November signing period. I expect all four uncommitted guys — Malick Diallo, Brody Kozlowski, Brooks Bahr, and Jaxon Johnson — to take an official visit to BYU. Brooks and Jaxon are the two guys right now that are planning to serve missions right after high school.
Positions to Fill
Director of Operations Bobby Horodyski announced this week that he left his current post to take an assistant job at Queens University of Charlotte, a D1 school in the ASUN.
BYU needs to fill that spot and can add up to two assistant coaches to take advantage of the new NCAA rule that allows teams to have 5 instead of 3 assistant coaches.
If I was a betting man, I’d put Mark Fox as the favorite among all the candidates to land an assistant gig. There’s too many connections with Mark Pope to not mention his name. Fox was fired at Cal this last season after four dismal seasons that ended in a 3-29 year. Fox and Pope are very close, going back over 30 years. Fox was an assistant coach at Washington when Pope was a player, and he gave Pope his first coaching job at Georgia over a decade ago. They’ve remained close since their days at Washington and Fox is one of Pope’s greatest coaching mentors along with Pitino. If Fox does end up at BYU, he would bring a lot of coaching experience and knowledge to the staff. Fox has been a head coach at Nevada, Georgia, and Cal.
Fox isn’t official and it may not work out, but he’s the top name I’m monitoring.