BYU COUGARS

BYU Hosts Former Coug In Season-Opener Against Idaho State

Nov 6, 2022, 9:48 PM | Updated: 11:16 pm
BYU Basketball, Idaho State, Kolby Lee...
BYU basketball tips off the 2022-23 season against Idaho State and former BYU big man Kolby Lee. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)
(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – Another year of BYU basketball is upon us. The 2022-23 regular season tips off Monday night at the Marriott Center as the Cougars host Idaho State.

Idaho State was picked to finish last (10th) in the preseason Big Sky Conference poll. The Bengals last year ended with a 7-23 record. But despite the low prognostications on the Bengals, there’s a bit of intrigue to this season opener for BYU.

For starters, BYU’s new-look roster shined in the exhibition against Ottawa from the NAIA ranks. The increased tempo and effort to shoot from three have been an entertaining brand of play in the preseason. Now it starts to count.

Kolby Lee returns to the Marriott Center

On the Bengals squad, there will be a familiar face to the BYU faithful, former BYU center Kolby Lee.

The 6-foot-9 big man was part of Pope’s team that was a 6-seed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. However, he played sparingly that year. So after the season, he entered the Transfer Portal and initially found his new home at Dixie State. But the Trail Blazers could not admit him into one of their graduate programs.

Lee has strong ties to BYU. His wife, Kayla Belles Lee, is a former player in the women’s basketball program. The two are expecting their first child together this April. During Kolby’s absence from the game, Kayla wrote in an Instagram post, “Only want him in a uniform that stands behind him and believes in what he can do.”

 

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A post shared by Kayla Belles Lee (@kayla_42_lee)

After a year of not playing, Lee landed at Idaho State this past off-season. It’s fitting because his former BYU teammates used to call him “Big Idaho,” as he’s a native of Meridian, Idaho. Along with the Idaho nickname, he also garnered the “Quickie Monster” nickname for his ability to knock down quick-release shots around the hoop.

Lee is a projected starter for a Bengals team looking to move up the Big Sky ladder this season.

“We know what a special player Kolby is, and he’s one of my favorite players to ever coach. So it’s going to be really fun to have him back in this gym,” said BYU coach Mark Pope. “He did so much for BYU while he was here. He’s taken on a major, major role on that team. So that’s fun to see.”

In three years at BYU, Lee averaged 11.4 minutes of action in 72 game appearances. He scored 4.5 points and pulled down 2.3 rebounds per game.

BYU vs. Idaho State

Date: November 7, 2022

Tip: 7 p.m. (MT)

Location: Marriott Center

TV: BYUtv

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM – Pregame begins at 6 p.m.)

Series: BYU leads 33-6

BYU basketball was impressive in its exhibition win

One of the goals for this year’s BYU basketball team is to get back to “BLRA,” which around Mark Pope’s program means “Best Locker Room in America.” As injured guard/forward Trevin Knell said to KSL Sports over the off-season, “everyone that wants to be here is here.”

The chemistry for Mark Pope’s fourth squad is off to a good start after putting up 109 points in an exhibition win over NAIA Ottawa. Pope installing an up-tempo style is a natural fit for BYU basketball and, on the surface, seems to be an excellent fit for this roster that features 12 new faces.

Rebounding will be a challenge for BYU this season, but they’ve got a walking double-double in Fousseyni Traore handling the five spot.

Spencer Johnson got his first career start in the exhibition win and made winning plays on both ends of the floor. He had six steals in the blowout victory and finished with the best plus/minus on Pope’s squad.

Projected Starters

BYU (0-0)

G – Rudi Williams, 6-3, Grad. (Coastal Carolina transfer)

G – Spencer Johnson, 6-5, Jr.

G – Jaxson Robinson, 6-7, Soph. (Arkansas transfer)

F – Gideon George, 6-6, Sr.

C – Foussyeni Traore, 6-6, Soph.

Idaho State (0-0)

G – Brock Mackenzie, 6-2, Sr. (Point Loma Nazarene transfer)

G – Miguel Tomley, 6-3, Soph. (Santa Clara transfer)

F – Ed Chang, 6-8, Jr. (Vanderbilt transfer)

F – Jared Rodriguez, 6-8, Sr.

C – Kolby Lee, 6-9, Sr. (BYU transfer)

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.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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