BYU basketball star Yoeli Childs returning for senior season

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Yoeli Childs addresses friends, family and the media as he announces his official return. (Addie Blacker)

BYU basketball star Yoeli Childs is returning for his senior season.

“I’m grateful to God and I’m grateful to be a part of this church where I can go to the temple and pray and do all the right things to make a good decision,” Childs said. “I’m grateful for BYU and for all the support the fans here have given me no matter what.”

Childs, who had previously declared for the 2019 NBA draft, posted a video on Twitter Wednesday night announcing his decision to return to BYU. The announcement came less than three hours before the deadline to remove his name from the draft and maintain college eligibility.

“Cougar Nation, I want to let you guys know I’m coming back for my senior year,” Childs said in the video. “Let’s make some magic happen.”

Newly-hired head coach Mark Pope, who took over the program about two weeks after Childs declared for the draft, indicated multiple times that he had been recruiting Childs to come back for his senior year. Pope tweeted a video of some of his assistants celebrating after Childs made his announcement Wednesday night.

“I found out officially yesterday at about 4 or 5 o’clock,” coach Pope said. “We’ve got to know each other really, really well, and more importantly I think is what Yoeli said today — he’s got to know himself, what he really cares about.”

Wednesday night’s announcement marks the second time Childs has returned to BYU after testing the NBA waters. The 6-foot-8, 225-pound forward came back to BYU last season after also having declared for the 2018 NBA draft.

“The final factor was that the opportunities I had right now will be there. I just want to do something special here,” Childs said. “I want to make a big run with these guys, I want to come back and get my degree. Those things together were huge for me and just wanting to come back and give it one last swing.”

The former Bingham High School standout was named to the All-WCC First Team for the second straight season in 2018-19, and was one of 10 finalists for the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award. He led BYU in both scoring and rebounds last season, averaging 21.2 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.

Yoeli Childs and coach Mark Pope chat during Childs’ press conference. (Addie Blacker)

“He’s a really good player,” Pope said. “I believe that he’s barely scratched the surface which is crazy to say because he’s so good, but I think his upside is huge.”

Childs’s return should prove to be a huge lift for the Cougars next season since they had been unable to find a solid replacement at the power forward position. Although big men Wyatt Lowell and Richard Harward followed Pope from UVU to BYU, both must sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules.

Senior guard Jake Toolson also followed Pope from UVU to BYU this offseason and will be eligible to play for the Cougars immediately. Toolson played his freshman season at BYU before transferring to UVU for his sophomore and junior years. 

“I’m going to be a pro for a very long time,” Childs said. “I only have one more year to do something special. I owe it to this school and my teammates to go out and do something special.”

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