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BYU Basketball’s 2020-21 Roster Highlighted By Impact Transfers

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - MARCH 30: Matt Haarms #32 of the Purdue Boilermakers reacts against the Virginia Cavaliers during overtime of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 30, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utahย – BYU basketball lost seven seniors from the 2019-20 roster that finished with a 24-8 record and a No. 18 ranking. It was easy for one to assume that after losing that much experience, BYU could take a step back for the upcoming 2020-21 season.

One recruiting cycle later amid a global pandemic, that narrative has quickly changed. BYU coach Mark Pope and his staff have pieced together a roster that not only appears to ready to build off the success of last year but be better in the process.

This new and improved roster reminds me of the first one-on-one interview I had with Pope in June 2019. Just two months after he was named BYU’s head coach. I asked Pope about his views on the Transfer Portal. He told me, “the Transfer Portal can be a beautiful thing.” The influence that the Transfer Portal has on next year’s BYU roster shows the beauty that Pope sees inside the portal.

BYU Basketball Roster 2020-21

* = Indicates redshirt season used

Let’s take a deeper look at the personnel on BYU basketball’s 2020-21 roster. Which is always subject to change between now and the start of the season.

Returning Personnel

Alex Barcello, Senior

One of the nation’s top three-point shooters last season at 48.6 percent from beyond the arc. Barcello steps into the role of being BYU’s most experienced leader within the program. “The Bulldog” as players and coaches refer to him will now have plays designed for him within the offense along with being one of the Cougars top defensive players.

Kolby Lee, Junior*

Lee took a huge step forward in his development last season and made many Cougar fans “Kolbelievers” throughout the year. Lee averaged 7 points and pulled down 3 rebounds per game while shooting a blistering 62.5 percent from the field, thanks in large part to those “quickie” shots he mastered a year ago.

Jesse Wade, Junior*

Wade is working to return back from the knee injury that forced him to miss all of last season. There are reports that Wade is going to be a walk-on this year. A former Player of the Year here in the state of Utah, Wade has the ability to fill it up in bunches. But it has been years since Wade has had a consistent role with a team. If healthy, Wade adds another player who can flat out shoot.

Gavin Baxter, Junior

Last season Baxter sacrificed a year of eligibility and made a quicker than expected recovery from a torn labrum injury to return late in the season for a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament with his teammates. The COVID-19 pandemic took away the chance to play in the Big Dance last year, but now Baxter looks poised for a big bounceback. At 6-foot-9, Baxter has the ability to impact the game on both ends of the floor. Will be in contention to be in the starting five next season.

Connor Harding, Junior

Could Harding become BYU’s next Jake Toolson? It’s possible. Harding was a sharpshooter burying 44 percent of his three-point attempts last season coming off the bench. Only entering his junior season, Harding could play some point guard, or the two and three spots. He’s a versatile player like Toolson was and now he has an opportunity to take a big leap forward in his game.

Trevin Knell, Sophomore

One of the best shooters in the program, Knell played in only 19 games in his first year back after serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Knell was making strides on the defensive end before suffering a freak thumb injury in the pregame warmup line.

Graduate Transfers

Matt Haarms, Senior

Haarms arrives at BYU from Purdue as the tallest player the Cougars have had since Shawn Bradley 30 years ago. At 7-foot-3, Haarms will have the ability to shut down the paint on the defensive end and on the offensive side showcase his versatility. Has the potential to be one of the best big men in college basketball this year and he loves what BYU has to offer in elevating his game.

Brandon Averette, Senior*

BYU desperately needed another experienced ball-handler in the backcourt to pair up with Barcello. Averette’s skills with the basketball are top-notch. One of the best ball-handlers BYU has acquired since Jimmer Fredette and to go even farther back Matt Montague.

Last year’s transfers who sat out

Richard Harward, Junior*

Last year the media was able to watch all two hours of practices on days selected for media availability. There were a couple of guarantees with every practice. Mark Pope was going to throw a football around to players during stretches and Richard Harward was going to get on someone’s nerves. Harward is BYU’s enforcer in the frontcourt and he could find himself in the starting lineup this season.

Wyatt Lowell, Sophomore*

The former WAC Freshman of the Year at UVU, Lowell has endless potential. A former four-star recruit by some outlets coming out of Williams Field High School in Arizona. Has the athleticism to play out on the wing and be a three in a given lineup. A consistent knockdown shooter during practices this past year, Lowell could be an opening night starter next season.

JUCOs

Spencer Johnson, Junior*

One of the top players for SLCC this past season, Johnson has a long, winding road towards ending up at BYU. A former Weber State player out of American Fork High School, Johnson is a combo guard who has made significant leaps forward on the defensive end. His experience at the collegiate level and improved defensive play will put him in a spot to be in the rotation.

Gideon George, Junior

A talent like Gideon George highlights the depth on BYU’s roster. A 6-foot-6 wing who still has his best days of basketball in front of him. George moved from Nigeria to play basketball in America where he played at New Mexico Junior College the past two years. Now he will look to find his role in year one at BYU. He has three years to play two in his collegiate career.

True Freshmen

Hunter Erickson, Freshman

After two years away, it can be easy for fans to forget about the talent of a player coming back from serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Hunter Erickson is one of those guys that people are sleeping on. Watching Erickson’s highlights at Timpview, he reminds me a little bit of former BYU guard Michael Vranes because of how explosive they are athletically.

Caleb Lohner, Freshman

There might not be a better fit offensively for what Pope is doing with his offense than adding Caleb Lohner. Checking in at 6-foot-9 with shoes on, Lohner has an old-school feel to his game and one of the purest shooting forms you’ll find from a true freshman. Has the potential to be in the conversation for a starting role, but how quickly does he pick things up on the defensive end?

Walk-Ons

Cameron Pearson, Sophomore

Part of the program last year appearing in 13 games.

Townsend Tripple, Freshman

Was going to serve a mission, but due to COVID-19 the mission has been delayed and will walk-on this season.

Brandon Warr, Senior

Warr transferred from Westminster College where he has two years to play one. Expected to redshirt this upcoming season.

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

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