Matt Carlino: BYU basketball’s newest face takes unconventional route to BYU


As a high school sophomore, Matt Carlino made a verbal commitment to play for the Indiana Hoosiers. He graduated high school a year early and instead went to college at UCLA. Now, he will suit up this winter for the BYU Cougars in front of 22,000 screaming fans in the Marriott Center.

Carlino’s route to BYU was not the most conventional, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.

[media-credit name=”Courtesy of Matt Carlino” align=”alignleft” width=”153″][/media-credit]
Matt Carlino transferred from UCLA to BYU.
“It’s really great to be here now,” he said. “The people here, the program, the coaches, the system, the position they’ll have me playing … it’s just a good fit for me all around.”

Carlino transferred to BYU from UCLA last winter. NCAA transfer rules required him to sit out one full year before suiting up, but that year-long wait is nearly through. BYU basketball fans will soon have the opportunity to see the newest member of the Cougars’ backcourt that has the difficult task of replacing graduated guards Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery.

Carlino grew up in the Phoenix area, where he was surrounded by a basketball-loving family. He was coached by his dad, Mark Carlino, who was a successful basketball player himself, playing for the Arizona State Sun Devils in the 1980s. His uncle was also a college basketball player and an assistant coach for the University of Utah under Rick Majerus.

“I was really involved in the basketball community at a young age,” Carlino said. “My uncle coached at Utah under Majerus. I remember coming out to Utah when he was there. They had Michael Doleac, Andre Miller and Keith Van Horn so I had the opportunity to meet some really good players.”

In high school, Carlino was touted as one of the nation’s top college prospects. In his sophomore year, Carlino decided he would play his collegiate basketball for a prominent Division I program, the Indiana Hoosiers.

Carlino moved to Bloomington, Ind., for his junior season to adapt to the feel of the Hoosier state. He decided he would graduate early to join the team sooner. Carlino finished both his junior and senior years of high school coursework in one year and left for college.

But when he enrolled in school that summer, it wasn’t Indiana University’s campus that he stepped foot on. Carlino found himself at UCLA after Indiana’s basketball program went through major coaching changes, NCAA violations and consecutive losing seasons.

After he arrived in Los Angeles, Carlino realized UCLA was not the place for him to play, either. He opened up his recruitment early in the basketball season after suffering a concussion in practice and not seeing any playing time in the preseason games.

Carlino’s options included UNLV, St. Mary’s, Butler and BYU. He chose BYU as the team climbed the national rankings behind the play of point guard Fredette.

After not being able to suit up for an entire year, Carlino said he cannot wait to finally get his chance to play for the Cougars this winter.

“I’m so excited. I can’t stop thinking about it,” he said. “Even just being able to practice this year and knowing that it’s coming, that the light at the end of the tunnel is really close now, it’s just a great feeling.”

To comply with NCAA rules, Carlino has to sit out until Dec. 17, when the Cougars take on Baylor in the Marriott Center. But the Cougars’ coaching staff can’t wait to get him out on the floor.

“Everybody wishes that Matt was available from day one, but he’ll be available in December,” Cougar head coach Dave Rose said. “It will be interesting to see how the first 12 games go without him.”

Through the difficult changes in his early basketball career, Carlino feels he has become stronger. His family, which will be in Provo for his first game as a Cougar, agrees.

“As each change took place he became more and more mature,” Mark Carlino said. “It’s not the most conventional journey to this point but he’s certainly at a place now that he’s comfortable with. I feel that his growth as a human being was really a big thing and that will help him as a basketball player.”


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