Could BYU Basketball’s 2020 Class Be The Cougars Best Recruiting Haul Ever?

Jun 16, 2020, 3:54 PM
Matt Haarms - Purdue Basketball...
Matt Haarms #32 of the Purdue Boilermakers dunks late in the second half against the Old Dominion Monarchs during the first round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at XL Center on March 21, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – With Utah Valley University guard Brandon Averette signed and the table now set for former Wasatch Academy star Caleb Lohner to join, BYU basketball is piecing together one of its best recruiting classes the program has ever signed in 2020.

The ranking of the group might not be as high as other classes BYU has signed in the past.  Currently, BYU’s 2020 recruiting class ranks 91st by 247Sports. Good for third in the WCC behind Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s. But the needs that BYU had to fill, were taken care of in this class.

Get an elite rim-protector, check. Find another ball handler to pair up with Alex Barcello in the backcourt, check. Find a gritty player who’s willing to sacrifice his game on the defensive end, check. Sign a player with elite measurables and the potential for endless upside, check.

Those needs were filled by the players in BYU’s class that will be joining the program this fall in Purdue transfer Matt Haarms, Averette, SLCC star Spencer Johnson, and New Mexico Junior College transfer Gideon George.

Then the expected addition of Caleb Lohner, a throwback type of player who has hops that can send him flying out of the gym. Plus in-state high school standouts in Fremont’s Dallin Hall and Lohner’s teammate at Wasatch Academy in Richie Saunders both set to serve two-year missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It’s a loaded class that begs the question, could it be the best BYU has ever assembled?

In the era of the Transfer Portal, which only goes back to the fall of 2018, the answer is an emphatic yes. But all-time, time will tell. BYU has signed nationally-ranked recruiting classes in the past. Some have panned out, others didn’t come close to their lofty hype.

BYU basketball classes in the past that had big expectations

The 2020 class is receiving a lot of praise and has the opportunity to deliver BYU immediate results this season. But there have been classes that have garnered more hype and expectations.

In 2013, BYU landed the No. 21 ranked class highlighted by Eric Mika and Nick Emery. The following year BYU signed T.J. Haws to complete the Lone Peak Three along with getting a signature from Payton Dastrup who decommitted from Ohio State. The 2014 class also featured Jake Toolson and Dalton Nixon, two players who were key pieces to BYU’s 24-8 season this past year. That class was ranked No. 29 in 247Sports’ rankings.

Mika and Haws were stars during their careers at BYU. Toolson became a star but it took a detour to Utah Valley to make that happen. These two classes produced only two NCAA Tournament bids. Three, if you count a likely bid had the COVID-19 pandemic not brought the world to a halt.

During Jimmermania, BYU signed pair of talented guards in Top-100 recruit DaMarcus Harrison and UCLA transfer Matt Carlino. Harrison ended up only playing one year at BYU before transferring to Clemson. Carlino made a splash in his three years at BYU delivering some big scoring performances. Being downgraded to a reserve in his final season at BYU made him leave for Marquette to complete his collegiate eligibility.

Back in 2004, Steve Cleveland landed a Top-25 class that featured four players ranked in the Top 150 headlined by Lee Cummard. BYU also signed Trent Plaisted who became an NBA Draft pick and Keena Young, a top-20 JUCO prospect from South Plains College. This class was the foundation of Dave Rose’s early success when he took over as head coach in 2005.

Twenty years ago, just a handful of seasons removed from a disastrous 1-25 campaign, BYU landed a Top-20 recruiting class headlined by McDonald’s All-American Garner Meads out of Brighton High School. The Cougars also pulled in signatures from Jacob Chrisman, Derek Dawes, and Jesse Pinegar out of high school. None of those four lived up to the expectations that many had for them. The player who had the least hype in the class was 6-foot-6 guard Travis Hansen out of UVSC. Hansen went on to be a star at BYU and eventually was a second-round NBA Draft pick.

Maybe the most heralded class ever for BYU was in 1990 when the Cougars signed 7-foot-6 Shawn Bradley. Bradley picked BYU over Duke, North Carolina, and Utah. Teaming up with Bradley was Ryan Cuff, a sharp-shooting guard and Kenneth Roberts who turned down Kansas. Roberts was the only one who ended up playing more than one season at BYU.

Do great classes on paper end up delivering great results? No. But they definitely give you a better opportunity to deliver big-time results.

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

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Could BYU Basketball’s 2020 Class Be The Cougars Best Recruiting Haul Ever?