Pope had a successful collegiate career winning a national championship playing with Kentucky from 1994-1996. He then played in the NBA for eight seasons from 1997-2005 playing with Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets. Further, after his playing career, he became an assistant at Georgia and then Wake Forest for a season each. Next, he became an assistant at BYU from 2011-2015. He got his chance as a head coach at Utah Valley from 2015-2019. This led to having good success going 77-56 in four seasons. Pope will have a great opportunity to be very successful at BYU in the present and future.
The roster that is returning to BYU for next season is very talented. They return Yoeli Childs, a WCC All first-team player and one of the best frontcourt players in the country. In addition, Nick Emery, if he can continue to stay out of trouble, gives them a guard who is experienced and can hit shots from the perimeter. Also, Jake Toolson comes from Utah Valley who will give them a complete wing on both ends. T.J. Haws gives them a reliable point guard at both ends. Also, he can shoot the ball very well and get his teammates involved effectively. The primary center will be Gavin Baxter is who is raw, but has the ability to continue to develop. Dalton Nixon and Zac Seljaas will be the most important bench pieces as they will bring depth to the frontcourt and perimeter.
The ability to recruit players to BYU on a consistent basis will determine the longevity of the program. Pope’s ability to sell the program has already seen its positive results. Also, for Pope to bring his best player from Utah Valley in Jake Toolson shows that players believe in the Pope’s ways. His ability to sell the program to incoming freshman has already paid off with landing Trey Stewart. The immediate recruiting success will pay off immediately with keeping Childs, bringing in Toolson and Stewart. Moreover, if Pope can continue this kind of recruiting success, BYU will compete for NCAA tournaments on a consistent basis.
Yoeli Childs Impact
The impact of the return of Childs cannot be understated as this gives BYU a game-changing frontcourt player. Also, the return of Childs takes the weight off of Haws, Toolson and Emery as they can maximize their roles without trying to do too much. Moreover, this gives the team an opportunity to compete at the top of the WCC among with Gonzaga and St. Mary’s with the aspiration of making the NCAA tournament. Childs will be a major force on both ends and be one of the best players in the country giving BYU a true go-to player.
Pope has the opportunity to build a consistent program for years to come at BYU. Year one should get off to a great start with a great returning roster. This is including Childs, Emery, Haws, Baxter Nixon, Seljaas and the addition of Jake Toolson from Utah Valley. Childs gives BYU a unique opportunity to return one of the top players in the country and give a clear cut go-to player. The ability to sell the program for Pope has had great success with already keeping Childs and bringing in Toolson and Stewart. Further, the style of play will be high-pace and will go through Childs. Finally, Pope has an opportunity to have massive success in year one and to set the tone for years to come for the BYU program.
Images Courtesy of, Deseret News, Kentucky Today
You can “Like” The Game Haus on Facebook and “Follow” us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles written by other great TGH writers along with James!
“From Our Haus to Yours”