BYU Gears Up For Big Game At Pacific With Hopes Yoeli Childs Could Play

Jan 22, 2020, 10:51 AM
Brigham Young Cougars forward Yoeli Childs (23) dunks the ball as Utah and BYU play an NCAA basketb...
Brigham Young Cougars forward Yoeli Childs (23) dunks the ball as Utah and BYU play an NCAA basketball game at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. Utah won 102-95 in overtime. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)
(Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – BYU senior forward Yoeli Childs returned to practice on Tuesday. Just another sign that he is getting closer to returning to action from the finger injury he suffered two weeks ago.

Last Saturday, Childs participated in pre-game and halftime warmups but didn’t play in BYU’s 23-point loss against Gonzaga.

Now after participating in a full-contact practice, could Childs play on Thursday night in a huge conference road game against Pacific?

“We’re 100% sure that we’re 100% not sure,” coach Mark Pope said. “He practiced today. There was a little bit of contact today and he seemed like he was functioning pretty good. He’s a little bit rusty, as you would imagine. I’m hopeful that it’s coming soon. Hopefully, this weekend. We’ll just see. It will be on if he’s able to catch a contested ball and finish at the rim. … He makes our team better. He makes us deeper. We’ve just got to make sure that he comes back when it’s right so we can actually finish this season and not have a setback.”

Observations from Yoeli’s first practice back

The practice was Childs’ first full-contact practice since he suffered the injury to his right index finger in practice on January 7th. Media members were able to observe practice and Childs didn’t seem fazed by having his finger taped up. Childs was blocking shots, putting up shots in the midrange with a nice touch, pulling down rebounds, and basically doing everything Childs is known to do, being impactful everywhere on the floor.

The two areas where Childs’ finger injury possibly fazed the 20 points and 10 rebounds per game star were on his three-point shots and slam dunks. This season, Childs has shot 66 percent from three-point range. But on Tuesday in practice, the rotation on Childs’ shot from distance appeared to be slightly different than what we’ve seen in his few appearances this year. Also, Childs did not dunk the basketball, he laid it in not allowing his finger to make any contact with the rim.

“This was the first time he’s (Childs) had any contact,” said Pope. “It was nice to see him out there running around a little bit. It was good for everybody. Clearly, Yoeli’s such a talented player and clearly we all want him back and he makes a huge impact on the game. And just the fact of having another body out there is so important, too. Even if he wasn’t one of the top players in college basketball, it still would be great just to have another functioning body. So we get a double bonus with him being on the practice court for a couple of drills.”

Impact this weekend’s games could have on BYU’s Tournament resume

A potential return this weekend for Childs would be coming at the perfect time. This weekend’s road trip against Pacific (Thursday) and San Francisco (Saturday) has the potential to define the Cougars season and NCAA Tournament resume.

“We have a chance to play two really good teams,” Pope said. “…They’re two really good teams and they’re probably better than what they are ranked right now and they are probably playing better than what they’re ranked.

“Every single game is so important, right? And this weekend is huge and then next weekend is huger and the weekend after that is even, what do you say, it’s not hugest because the weekend after that is going to be huger, but whatever. You English speaking people can find the right word for that.”

A win and having Yoeli Childs would be the hugest outcome that BYU could ask for going into this weekend.

BYU (14-6, 3-2) at Pacific (15-6, 3-2)

Tip: 8 p.m. (MST)

TV: Stadium

Online: (FREE)

Radio: KSL NewsRadio 102.7 FM, 1160 AM

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for 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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