What BYU Basketball Should Look For In Next Assistant Coach

Apr 19, 2022, 3:43 PM
BYU Basketball - Mark Pope...
PROVO, UT - JANUARY 8: Mark Pope head coach of the BYU Cougars cheers his team during the second half of their game against the St. Mary's Gaels January 8, 2022 at the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – BYU basketball needs a new assistant coach. With Chris Burgess to Utah becoming official on Tuesday, it begs the question, where does BYU go from here?

The first thing we should note about the Burgess move is that it ushers in the first coaching search for one of the revenue-generating sports since receiving a Big 12 invite.

Yes, the Big 12 isn’t official until July 1, 2023, but it’s time for BYU to start thinking like a Power 6 basketball program when it comes to hires.

BYU basketball coach Mark Pope is never shy about swinging for the fences. Whether scheduling or transfer portal targets, he wants BYU hoops to be a national player. Having the ability to pitch a coach the opportunity to be on a staff in college basketball’s best conference should be an attractive option.

The Big 12 money stream doesn’t begin rolling in until 2023. But even then, it won’t be a full revenue cut for BYU till the new television deal starts in the 2025-26 academic year. Still, there has to be a strong commitment financially from BYU to deliver what Pope wants out of the search. They shouldn’t hold back.

You thought being in a league with Gonzaga was difficult. Get ready for a conference slate that includes two or three Gonzaga’s in a given season, and that’s not including the future departures in Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC.

What could Pope want from this search?

BYU Basketball Assistant Coach job posting

Well, looks look at the job posting for starters. Now that Burgess is officially a member of Utah’s staff, BYU can move forward with formal interviews for their assistant coach job search.

  • Four years of college basketball playing and/or coaching experience required, 2 years coaching experience strongly preferred
  • Knowledge and understanding of Division I basketball and NCAA rules and regulations required
  • Recruiting experience preferred
  • Knowledge and understanding of University policies preferred
  • Strong organizational and interpersonal skills are required
  • Knowledge of and commitment to BYU Honor Code and BYU employment standards required

Experience is a key thing here. Yes, the job listing says four years of playing experience would suffice, but as seen in the early years of Kalani Sitake’s tenure with BYU football, just because you played at a high level doesn’t make you a great coach.

As BYU transitions into membership in the Big 12, getting a proven coach with Power 6 coaching experience would be the perfect combo. Texas Tech assistant Barret Peery is a Latter-day Saint who has ties to Utah, and he now has Big 12 experience under his belt.

The problem with trying to get a guy like Peery would assume a hefty price tag. Peery is part of a three-man coaching staff in Lubbock that the Red Raider athletic department gave a $1.5 million coaching pool.

Those Big 12 checks aren’t rolling through yet in Provo.

Cal assistant Marty Wilson has ties to the West Coast Conference from his days as a head coach at Pepperdine, the state of Utah, and currently works for one of Mark Pope’s mentors in Mark Fox.

One thing to note about Peery, he was once a head coach at a mid-major institution. Before going to Texas Tech, Peery was the head coach at Portland State. With BYU soon becoming a Power 6 program in hoops, could that blueprint also work for the Cougars? Utah Valley’s Mark Madsen would be an exciting candidate to fit this billing.

Staying on Mark Madsen’s bench at Utah Valley is Wolverine assistant Todd Okeson who worked with Mark Pope at the University of Georgia for a season.

Coaches with BYU ties?

If you want to zero in on the knowledge and commitment of the BYU Honor Code and employment standards, not many candidates would know better than Lee Cummard. Cummard was a full-time men’s assistant in Dave Rose’s final season in 2018-19. The former BYU great then moved over to the women’s basketball staff under Jeff Judkins. He was an interim head coach while Judkins was out with COVID-19 this past season.

Speaking of Judkins, would he want to coach again? The 66-year-old is the winningest coach in BYU basketball history after a successful 21-year run with the women’s program that came to a close last week after he announced he’s retiring. Judkins worked on the men’s side for two years as the Director of Basketball Operations under Steve Cleveland before transitioning into the head coach role with the women’s.

Shortly after Judkins left the DBO position, it was filled by Walter Roese, who was elevated from graduate assistant to DBO. Roese’s strong ties to Brazil helped BYU land Rafael Araujo and Luiz Lemes.

Since his days at BYU, Roese, an MBA at BYU in 2003, has remained in the basketball world from jobs at San Diego, Hawaii, and the Utah Jazz. Roese is currently working with the NBA Academy Latin America as a Technical Director.

Recruiting experience should honestly say, “transfer portal experience.” Do you have a history of landing impact prospects out of the Transfer Portal? To its core, BYU will always be a place built on Latter-day Saint athletes, but you can’t deny the portal’s impact on college basketball.

For all the panic in the Twitter streets about the sky suddenly falling for BYU basketball, programs losing top rotation players is becoming the new norm in college hoops.

Programs in BYU’s future home, the Big 12, are experiencing this as well. The losses are even more significant for some as Iowa State lost Big 12 Freshman of the Year Tyrese Hunter to the portal.

With one-time waivers available and NIL money to be had, the Transfer Portal is the name of the game right now.

The Transfer Portal is critical but ties to regional footprints where BYU typically recruits are strongly recommended.

Wasatch Academy head coach Paul Peterson would be a great option to help with those efforts. An excellent developer of high school talent, Wasatch Academy continues to churn out elite prospects since Peterson took over for Dave Evans.

There are sure to be many more names that Mark Pope has in mind for the assistant role. But to its core, the next assistant coach needs to have that relentless approach that got Pope’s program off to a hot start in his first two seasons.

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

  • BYU Cougars Scoreboard

  • BYU Cougars Team Leaders

  • BYU Cougars Standings

Cougar Tracks

BYU Football, CFB, 100 Days, Kalani Sitake...
Mitch Harper

Key BYU Football Storylines With Only 100 Days Till Kickoff

The season is almost here.
17 hours ago
Bodie Schoonover, BYU Football, American Fork High...
Mitch Harper

BYU Football Players Returning From Latter-day Saint Missions In 2022

The group of BYU football players that will be returning home from Latter-day Saint missions during the remainder of the year.
10 days ago
BYU Football, LES, LaVell Edwards Stadium...
Mitch Harper

Five Teams BYU Should Pursue For 2023 Non-Conference Opening

With Tennessee off the schedule, which direction does BYU football go on the 2023 schedule?
10 days ago
Kyle Van Noy, Los Angeles Chargers, BYU Football...
Mitch Harper

Kyle Van Noy Impressed With BYU Football’s Culture Under Kalani Sitake

Former BYU great KVN is excited about the direction of Cougar Football under Sitake.
17 days ago
Rudi Williams, BYU Basketball, Cosmo...
Mitch Harper

BYU Basketball’s ‘Sales Pitch’ Impressed Rudi Williams To Sign

The newest member of the BYU basketball took the time to go into detail about why he signed with the Cougars.
19 days ago
BYU football, Kalani Sitake, Utah Utes...
Mitch Harper

Kalani Sitake Sees BYU Football As Power Five Operation Already

July 1, 2023, won't be the day BYU becomes a Power Five team. Kalani Sitake believes that day is already here.
25 days ago
What BYU Basketball Should Look For In Next Assistant Coach