COUGAR TRACKS

Lauren Gustin Explains Why She Returned To BYU From Transfer Portal

Oct 15, 2023, 9:55 PM | Updated: 9:59 pm

Lauren Gustin, BYU Women's Basketball, Senior Big 12...

BYU Women's Basketball star Lauren Gustin left the Transfer Portal to return to BYU for one final season. (Courtesy of BYU Photo)

(Courtesy of BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – Lauren Gustin is the only BYU basketball player (men’s or women’s) who received All-Big 12 honors entering the Cougars’ first year in the Big 12 on the hardwood.

Expectations are low for BYU basketball everywhere you look heading into the Big 12. But Gustin seems ready for the brighter lights with a power conference stage.

Gustin comes into the season as a preseason All-Big 12 Honorable Mention selection after a year where she was the nation’s leading rebounder.

The native of Salem, Utah, Gustin pulled down 16.7 rebounds last season and was the WCC Co-Defensive Player of the Year. Gustin grabbed more rebounds than LSU’s Angel Reese, who threw down the “can’t see me” gesture to Iowa star Caitlin Clark en route to a National Championship.

So when Gustin entered the Transfer Portal, there was worry that BYU wouldn’t have their star player entering the new era of Big 12 basketball.

After less than a week in the portal, Gustin announced she would return to BYU.

Why did Lauren Gustin enter the Transfer Portal?

But why did Lauren Gustin go into the portal in the first place? She spoke with KSL Sports about her offseason visit to the portal.

“I went into the portal closed contact because I kind of had in sight the options that I wanted to actually explore,” said Gustin to KSL Sports. “So I went in closed contact, and without talking, I went into there that way. I still got some contact from other schools that, technically, weren’t necessarily supposed to reach out.”

 

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A post shared by Lauren Gustin (@laurengustinn)

There were rumors that the University of Utah was one of the teams that pursued Gustin in the portal. The Utes have since added Gustin’s former BYU coach, Jeff Judkins, to the staff and are viewed as a National Title contender this season.

Gustin never disclosed which schools pursued her but did note that “one other option” in the transfer portal piqued her interest.

“It was fun to be able to hear from other schools their interest and whatnot. But I just wanted to pursue one other option. So I was in and out pretty quick just because I already had in mind what I was looking for. But things didn’t feel right, and ultimately, BYU was the best choice for me to come back to. I’m so happy I decided to come back.”

Lauren Gustin gives BYU a star entering the Big 12

Gustin’s decision to return to BYU gives the Cougars a jolt of energy and a legitimate double-double star in a Big 12 Conference that produced six NCAA Tournament teams a season ago.

The 6-foot-1 forward enters her fourth and final season with the program with career averages of 13.0 points and 13.8 rebounds per game.

“I’m so happy that I decided to come back and I’m just excited and pumped for the season. I’m really looking forward to this year. It’s really sad to me that this is my last season. I think I haven’t really felt that yet completely. Because I’ve always felt like I have one more year left, two more years left in the tank. So now that it’s actually my last season, it’s hit me … I didn’t think I was going to feel this way.”

Two years ago, Gustin was part of a BYU team that was flying high as a nationally-ranked team. They earned a 6-seed in the NCAA Tournament before being upset in the first round by 11-seed Villanova.

After that upset loss to Villanova, BYU basketball’s winningest coach Jeff Judkins stepped down, BYU then brought in Amber Whiting from Burley High School in Idaho to lead the program.

That was a big change for a program that went two decades without any shakeup to the head coach role.

Gustin is excited for year two with Coach Amber Whiting

The changes were a big undertaking for the program as BYU had a lackluster 16-17 record in what was a transition year to set Whiting’s culture into motion.

In year two, Gustin believes more could be accomplished for BYU despite moving to a more challenging conference.

“I felt like last year with it being [Coach Whiting’s] first year and everyone adjusting to that, we were trying to just get a feel for everything. But this year, Coach Amber is a lot more comfortable and you can tell by her staff as well. They have us prepared before every practice. You can tell that the coaches are really united, which now transfers down to the players because I feel like we’re really united. Even with the six new players, I feel like I’m so close with them already.”

Gustin’s senior campaign with BYU basketball tips off November 7 at Montana State. She’s thrilled to be back in blue and part of BYU hoops for one final season.

“I’m more than happy with my decision. I think the whole [transfer portal] experience was good and I don’t regret that as far as going into the portal and kind of seeing everything. But coming back to BYU has been such a great decision. My coaches and teammates have all been so great about everything and I couldn’t be happier with my decision.”

Follow KSL Sports at Big 12 Basketball Media Day

KSL Sports will be at Big 12 Basketball Media Days in Kansas City from October 17-18 at the T-Mobile Center. Follow the coverage on the KSL Sports app.

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 Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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Lauren Gustin Explains Why She Returned To BYU From Transfer Portal