Big 12 Basketball

BYU Basketball’s Transfer Portal Top Takeaways

Apr 25, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns assistant coach Kevin Young against the Los Angeles Clippers during game five of the 2023 NBA playoffs at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The BYU Cougars men’s basketball team lost several players to the transfer portal and also lost their head coach, Mark Pope, to the Kentucky Wildcats.

After losing Pope, the Cougars acted quickly and hired Kevin Young, an assistant coach with the Phoenix Suns who had interviewed for several NBA head-coaching jobs.

His hiring stabilized the transfer portal losses, allowed the Cougars to hit on some key recruits and hold over more players from last season’s roster than expected.


In this edition of Portal Thoughts, we look at what BYU has done so far this offseason and what is left to do.

BYU’s Losses (2)

The Cougars lost just two players to eligibility.

Guard Spencer Johnson was the most prominent. The graduate student was the Cougars’ fourth-leading scorer at 10.3 points. He also led the team with 6.3 rebounds and he was one of the team’s top passers at 3.3 assists. The Cougars will miss his versatility and experience.

The other is walk-on Tredyn Christensen, who was honored on senior night. He didn’t log any minutes last season and was a transfer from Chaminade.

BYU’s Transfer Losses (6)

Pope’s departure to Kentucky did cause some discombobulation for the roster from a transfer standpoint. While a pair of players that were in the portal came back to BYU, six others moved on.

Most notable is guard Jaxson Robinson, who finished as BYU’s leading scorer at 14.2 points. After he went into the transfer portal and he declared for the NBA Draft, he removed his name from the draft and opted to follow Pope to Kentucky. He had previous SEC experience with Arkansas.

Noah Waterman is on the road again after he transferred in to BYU from Detroit Mercy. He averaged nearly 10 points and is now with Louisville.

One of BYU’s best passers from last season, forward Aly Khalifa, averaged 4.0 assists as a forward and will now play for Louisville with Waterman.

Two others have committed to mid-majors. Highly-touted recruit Marcus Adams Jr. has committed to Cal State Northridge while forward Atiki Ally Atiki is headed to New Mexico. The only transfer without a destination is swingman Tanner Hayhurst.


BYU’s Transfer Gains (2)

So far this offseason the Cougars have brought in just two transfers.

Rutgers forward Mawot Mag was a solid get for the Cougars. He averaged 9.1 points and 3.8 rebounds last season, the former of which was a career high.

Keba Keita is a forward who played for Utah last season. He averaged 8.3 points and 5.4 rebounds. Those were both career highs for the third-year college player.

BYU’s Recruiting Gains (2-4)

The Cougars have two true freshmen on the roster.

Brody Kozlowski, a 6-8 forward from Draper, Utah, was a three-star player and the No. 116 player in the country according to 247Sports. He played at Corner Canyon High School.

Elijah Crawford is a 6-2 guard who is from Augusta, Ga., and played at Brewster Academy. He is also a three-star recruit and was ranked No. 142 overall.

Two others are part of the class but are not on the roster yet. Brooks Bahr was the highest-rated signee in the class, No. 113 overall, from Keller, Texas. He suffered an injury in February. His signing was announced in November.

The other is Egor Demin, a highly-touted forward from Russia who was playing for Real Madrid and had declared for the NBA Draft. He removed his name and opted to sign with BYU. Like Bahr, he is not yet on the roster.


Set to Return (8)

Considering the coaching changes, the Cougars hung on to half of its roster from a season ago, which is an accomplishment in this age.

Four players will be key to BYU’s continuity this season. Forward Fousseyni Traore is the returning leading scorer after averaging 10.9 points and 5.2 rebounds. Right behind him is guard Trevin Knell, who averaged 10.6 points and shot more than 38% from the 3-point line.

Guards Richie Saunders and Dallin Hall both submitted their names for the transfer portal but ultimately withdrew. Saunders averaged 9.6 points and Hall averaged 9.0 points. He also had a team-leading 5.1 assists.

That’s a good start — four players that combined to average nearly 40 points combined last season.  

Beyond that are four players looking for more playing time. Guards Dawson Baker, Trey Stewart and Jared McGregor, along with forward Townsend Tripple, did not garner much playing time a season ago.

What’s Left?

Assuming that Bahr and Demin join the team, as expected, the Cougars will be at the roster limit. From a continuity season, BYU couldn’t have asked for much more, except for perhaps retaining Robinson. That was probably going to be tough after he declared for the NBA Draft.

The portal gets will add to a solid roster that should be competitive in the Big 12. The key is whether players like Saunders and Hall both take significant steps forward from a scoring standpoint. The departures should give them that chance.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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