BYU COUGARS

BYU Coach Mark Pope Honors Trio Of Seniors With Impromptu Speech On Senior Night

Feb 28, 2021, 2:33 AM | Updated: 2:34 am
Mark Pope - BYU Basketball...
BYU Basketball head coach Mark Pope addresses fans on senior night after a win over Saint Mary's on February 27th, 2021. (BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)
(BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)

PROVO, Utah – BYU basketball head coach Mark Pope knows how to create memories on a senior night. There wasn’t a victory over a No. 2 ranked team or a court storming, but Saturday night’s win over Saint Mary’s to close out an unprecedented 2020-21 season was one that no one will soon forget.

After taking down the Gaels, a win that gives BYU its first regular-season sweep of Saint Mary’s since 2014, Pope grabbed the mic and addressed the 2,000 fans at the Marriott Center to recognize seniors Brandon Averette, Alex Barcello, and Matt Haarms just as he did last year after beating Gonzaga.

Mark Pope celebrates Senior Night with BYU fans

“I know we haven’t been able to do this together in person the whole season. But we are so incredibly blessed to be represented by these three seniors this year,” said Pope to BYU fans at the Marriott Center. “They are extraordinary young men. And the time will come when it’s appropriate to recruit them back for one more year.”

Loud cheers from fans in the Marriott Center ensued after Pope dropped that line.

“On this really special senior night, where we are trying to get to the end of this COVID, and after these guys have put together an incredible season. I just want you to hear from each of these guys briefly.”

The live mic was not planned, according to Pope and the three seniors. It was all an impromptu ordeal, but it was raw, and it was heartfelt in a historic year that no one will soon forget from a group of seniors that never imagined they would conclude their collegiate careers at BYU.

Brandon Averette

“I’m so grateful, I’m thankful, and blessed to make the decision to come here. This has been a crazy year for everybody, not just us. I love this team; I love this family that we have and what we’ve built. It’s been a grind. My brothers know we’ve been grinding. We’re going to keep going, and we’re not going to stop.”

Matt Haarms

“It’s been a tough year, but it’s been a year with so many blessings. These guys mean the world to me right now. I’m so happy to team up with these guys. You know, I came from a different place. And the second I stepped on campus here, I was embraced. By not just these guys, not just the coaching staff, but every single one of you. So thank you so much.”

Alex Barcello

“I don’t know if I can put this into words how grateful and how blessed I feel to feel this support. To feel as embraced as I have the minute I stepped on campus by everybody. By Cougar Nation, by my coaching staff, by people on campus, the student body. Man, thank you, guys. Thank you, really. This school is something really special. And I don’t want anyone to think otherwise. I know this team at the beginning of the year; everybody counted us out except the people in this gym and around this university. But don’t get us wrong, business isn’t done.”

Mark Pope challenged BYU fans

After the three seniors spoke to BYU fans, Pope grabbed the microphone again and said, “I actually should not do this. But it’s one of these unique times where this is 100 percent legal. I’m not allowed to talk to anybody about recruiting ever, except for these three guys. I’m telling you right now; I’m asking every single one of you guys, let’s recruit these dudes back, let’s go!”

With this year being a free year for eligibility from the NCAA due to the pandemic, seniors could return to BYU next year. We will see what happens. Matt Haarms emphasized this will be his only year at BYU during the radio postgame show heard on KSL NewsRadio. Alex Barcello and Brandon Averette said they would weigh all of their options after the season.

BYU closes the 2020-21 regular season with a 19-5 record overall and 10-3 record in WCC play.

The 10-3 record in conference play locks BYU into the no. 2 seed of the West Coast Conference Tournament in Las Vegas. BYU will have a bye until the semifinals round of the WCC Tournament, when they will next be in action on Monday, March 8th at The Orleans Arena.

To watch the full postgame speech from Mark Pope and BYU’s three seniors, check out the video below.

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 p.m., KSL Newsradio). Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper and the KSL Sports app.

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BYU Coach Mark Pope Honors Trio Of Seniors With Impromptu Speech On Senior Night