With official news coming in Friday afternoon that former BYU Cougar and reigning WAC player of the year Jake Toolson will be back in Provo, BYU’s roster is nearly set for the upcoming season.
Emphasis on the word nearly as BYU still has one scholarship to give away. BYU took its self-imposed one-scholarship reduction last season, so the team will have the full allotment of 13 this upcoming season.
So, what will Mark Pope decide to do with vacant slot? Here’s where the roster currently stands with players on scholarship.
TJ Haws - G
Jake Toolson - G
Nick Emery - G
Zac Seljaas - G/F
Dalton Nixon - F
Richard Harward - F/C (must sit out and redshirt due to NCAA transfer rules)
Jesse Wade - G
Gavin Baxter - F
Kolby Lee - F/C
Connor Harding - G
Wyatt Lowell - F (Must sit out and redshirt due to NCAA transfer rules)
Trevin Knell - G
If you notice, BYU is VERY thin in the frontcourt. With Lowell and Harward both redshirting, Baxter and Lee are the only two true frontcourt players. Nixon filled a frontcourt role the past couple seasons and Seljaas can play a stretch four for when BYU wants to go small — which they may be forced to do.
BYU signed two big guys out of high school in November in Shengzhe Li and Bernardo Da Silva, but both of them were released from their National Letters of Intent in favor of UVU transfers Lowell and Harward. Li and Da Silva were both raw and would have been developmental prospects, so Pope decided to go with two guys who have produced at the college level and are more sure things.
Jake Toolson is a graduate transfer and BYU could elect to go the graduate-transfer route to bring in a big guy that could come in right away and play one season. Many of BYU’s graduate admissions deadlines have passed already, so a potential graduate transfer may have to get an exception to apply to and gain acceptance into a program. A graduate transfer with one season of eligibility would be the best-case scenario so BYU can get that scholarship free next year when frontcourt depth isn’t quite as pressing of an issue.
Another option is to go after a JUCO transfer or incoming freshman. A freshman from the 2019 class seems unlikely since BYU pulled Li’s and Da Silva’s scholarship, but going after a JUCO who has 2-3 years of eligibility may be the most feasible route at this point.
Another position BYU may address is point guard. Mark Pope told BYU Sports Nation that, in addition to size, BYU needs people in the backcourt. He views TJ Haws as the lone true point guard on the roster, so BYU could elect to bring in a PG transfer that sits out this season or sign a freshman point guard that coaches and TJ can groom. Pope went to Seattle in April to visit Class of 2019 point guard Pierre Crockrell.
Great in home visit with Head Coach Mark Pope of BYU!!! pic.twitter.com/mKe4W3ziWx— Pierre Crockrell II (@CrockrellP) April 15, 2019
Assuming no one else transfers, it’s possible BYU may ask Nick Emery to walk on once again to free up a scholarship so they can bring in a big man and point guard. Emery reportedly paid his own way last season when BYU took its scholarship reduction, so coaches could ask Nick to do the same in order to free up one more scholarship. This is speculative on my part, but could be an option if coaches really need another scholarship.
With the May 29 deadline approaching for NBA Draft early entrants to withdraw their names, we should see more roster movement across the country once teams have a better idea of where their roster stands.