BYU basketball could be set to have its best season in recent memory with BYU star Yoeli Childs returning for his senior season and the addition of All-American Honorable Mention Jake Toolson.
According to BYU athletics, BYU basketball retained more than 75% of its production from the 2018-19 season in almost every meaningful statistical category including:
- Points: 81.9%
- Rebounds: 75.9%
- Assists: 78%
- Blocks: 93.5%
- Field goals made: 82%
- 3-point field goals: 81.9%
- Free throws made: 81%
Childs return gives an obvious boost to a BYU team that needed one, and with the return of their WCC-First Team star, the Cougars now have a complete roster with bench depth.
Jake Toolson was another important acquisition this summer. Toolson followed newly-hired head coach Mark Pope from UVU with a handful of others. Toolson transferred to UVU after spending two years at BYU in what could be seen as a move to get more playing time, and his transfer gave him just that. Toolson saw all of his stats drastically increase over the next 24 months with increased playing time. In his senior season, the native of Gilbert, Arizona, averaged 15.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 54% shooting per game.
Childs and Toolson add seniority to a roster that already had a handful of meaningful players who will hear their names read on senior night during the 2019-20 season, including Nick Emery, Zac Seljaas, Dalton Nixon and TJ Haws.
Nixon and Seljaas will likely be important bench players barring significant growth in the off-season. Haws is a sure bet to start, and Emery should join him on the starting five unless Jesse Wade — Gonzaga transfer and 2015’s Utah’s Mr. Basketball — wins his spot after a year of sitting out because of NCAA regulations.
BYU also added a pair of other transfers from UVU in Richard Harward and Wyatt Lowell, while Trey Stewart, an American Fork high school recruit, also decided to follow Pope to BYU after signing a letter of intent to pay for the Wolverines. Harward and Lowell will not be eligible to play during the 2019-20 season because of NCAA regulations.
The Cougars 2019-20 roster should be their strongest in years, at least since the Jimmer-Collinsworth eras, giving BYU a realistic chance at returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since the 2014-15 season when it lost 94-90 in a First Four game to Ole Miss. With Childs’ return and Toolson’s transfer, BYU sees a starting five that consists of an All-American Honorable Mention and WAC Player of the Year, an All-WCC First Team player, an All-WCC Second-Team player and an All-WCC Freshman Team player.
Unless significant off-season shifts occur, BYU’s starting five will likely be as follows.
- Point Guard, TJ Haws: 17.8 points, 5.1 assists and 46.3% shooting per game last season. Named to the All-WCC Second Team.
- Shooting Guard, Nick Emery: 6.1 points and 39% 3-point shooting per game last season.
- Small Forward, Jake Toolson: 15.7 points, 4.5 rebounds 2.3 assists per game last season. Named All-WAC and WAC Player of the Year in 2019.
- Power Forward, Yoeli Childs: 21.2 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game last season. Named to the All-WCC First Team while averaging the most points in the WCC.
- Center, Gavin Baxter: 4.7 points, 3.1 rebounds per game last season. He recorded a career-high 25 points in his first ever start on Feb. 2 against Loyola Marymount while being named to the WCC Freshman Team.
Coach Pope has already made a name for himself at BYU after being named head coach of the BYU men’s basketball team on April 10 as Childs was recruited to return and Toolson transferred, and a number of other recruits joined the Cougars.