BYU COUGARS

BYU Basketball Now Has One Scholarship Available For 2019-20 Season

Jul 23, 2019, 2:32 PM | Updated: 6:47 pm
Mark Pope...
BYU head basketball coach Mark Pope. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)
(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – With news on Tuesday that Nick Emery has retired from the game of basketball.  BYU basketball now has one scholarship available as they continue preparations for the 2019-20 season.

Emery was on scholarship last season and as of June of this year was expected to be on scholarship for the 2019-20 season.

Mark Pope said in early June that college basketball rosters are always “dynamic” up until August.  With so many moving parts to the creation of a roster, recruiting never stops in college hoops these days.  Pope mentioned that he was still looking to possibly add scholarship players and preferred walk-ons to his roster.

Now Pope has an open scholarship to work with.  The question becomes, who will receive that final scholarship?  Here are a few possibilities.

Preferred Walk-on gets a promotion

The easiest route Mark Pope and his staff could take is providing a scholarship to a preferred walk-on already in the program.  Blaze Nield a junior college transfer from Utah State Eastern is the lone preferred walk-on on the roster right now.  Nield is heading into his sophomore season and has been practicing during summer conditioning with the program since June.  The Cougars also have Colby Leifson.  Leifson is home after serving a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Undergraduate Transfer

Notice the emphasis on undergraduate, not graduate.  The graduate transfer has, for the most part, dried up in terms of impactful players that could contribute this season.  But also, the deadlines for graduate students to apply to be admitted into one of BYU’s grad programs has long since passed.  May 1st is the latest application date for students looking to qualify for one of BYU’s graduate programs.  So that’s not going to be an option for Mark Pope and his program.

The undergraduate transfer market, however, could offer some talented options.  The problem is that undergraduate transfers wouldn’t be eligible to play this season unless they were to receive a waiver from the NCAA to play immediately.

BYU currently has 12 scholarship players in the program right now and only 10 are able to play this season.  Utah Valley transfers Wyatt Lowell and Richard Harward are both on scholarship and still waiting on their waiver status from the NCAA to potentially play this season.


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Prep School/JUCO Basketball

Prep schools and junior college basketball programs have been areas where BYU basketball has tapped into in the past to add late additions to a roster.  But very few have made a significant impact on the court when they’ve arrived at BYU.  Pope and his staff might be better served to use the scholarship on Blaze Nield if this was a serious option considered.

Wait till fall semesters conclude for transfers to enter the portal

This might be the best approach for Pope and his staff to take, especially with how easy it is for student-athletes to now put their names in the NCAA transfer portal.  In the past, BYU has landed Matt Carlino and Jamal Aytes as undergraduate transfers at the mid-year mark.  This path would allow a new transfer to sit out, get familiar with BYU in the classroom, but gain valuable experience practicing during the season.

BYU will be heading out to Italy for a European trip in August and then begin training camp in late September.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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