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Yoeli Childs returns for BYU basketball to ‘do something special’

“When they were making those tournament runs and there was Jimmermania and all those things, there was a magic and excitement in Provo and I want to bring something like that back here.”

Brigham Young v Saint Mary’s Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Yoeli Childs had a clear answer Thursday to explain why he decided to return for his senior season to play for BYU basketball.

“I want to make a big run for these guys, I want to come back and get my degree. Those things together were huge for me in just wanting to come back and give it one last swing.”

Childs spoke Thursday morning in front of media members and school staff to discuss the return he announced about 15 hours prior on Twitter, just meeting the deadline to withdraw from the NBA Draft and retain his eligibility to finish his college career.

Childs seemed destined to leave school even if the NBA seemed a longshot, perhaps headed overseas for professional play.

He confirmed the Wednesday night reports from The Athletic’s Tony Jones that he had “significant” offers to play overseas.

“I for sure had some overseas opportunities for what some people would consider a significant amount of money. But if I played this game just for money I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now. It’s important to take care of your family, but I love … a lot of things about this game and money’s definitely not at the top of that list,” Childs said.

Jones’ other report was about NBA teams’ desires that Childs improve as a perimeter defender. Childs said that was his main individual focus this season, with the goal of being the WCC defensive player of the year.

“I think I’m very capable of being a versatile defender,” he said. “I think it’s going to be about habits and reps and putting in that effort every single day in practice — and challenging myself, and having this coaching staff challenging me to be the best defender on the floor every possession. I think over the course of the next few months we’ll get there, to the point where I am an elite defender.”

After “too many” conversations with new head coach Mark Pope, it seemed clear Childs was sold on Pope’s style, what was described in a piece from The Athletic ($) as “chasing discomfort” in which Pope said: “I do like it when someone tells me that we can’t do something.”

“The vision they have is special,” Childs said Thursday. “You guys have all seen that they bring a belief that the impossible can happen and something special can happen. I’m bought into that, I’m 100% in that something special is going to happen this year and we’re going to make it happen.”

Childs said that happens when every player gives it everything, every day, so they can have no regrets when it’s over — noting that he and the other seniors, including newcomer Jake Toolson, have all enjoyed individual accolades but now “just want to win, period.”

“I’m going to be able to be a pro for a really long time but I only have one more year to do something special here,” he said. “I owe it to this school, I owe to these guys over here, my teammates, to come back and do something amazing. I just want to go all out and do something special for BYU.”