Alex Barcello receives NCAA approval to play with Cougars this season

Arizona transfer Alex Barcello will be playing for the Cougars this upcoming 2019-20 basketball season. (Hannah Miner)

Alex Barcello has been cleared to play for the BYU men’s basketball team for the upcoming 2019-20 season. 

After recent injuries and setbacks for their starting lineup, the BYU Cougars received news that the Arizona transfer had met an exception of the NCAA transfer rule and will be eligible to suit up for the first game on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

The good news couldn’t have come soon enough. 

“Well, it actually made our average height smaller,” head coach Mark Pope joked about Barcello being eligible to play. “He gives us a real physical presence in the backcourt, which is a huge gift.”

The 6-foot-2 guard played his first two years of college ball at Arizona. As a sophomore in the 2018-19 season, Barcello averaged 3.3 points and added 26 rebounds, 15 assists and 10 steals over 30 games. Pope said the junior is bringing a physicality to the team that the Cougars desperately need. 

Unsure of whether the NCAA would accept BYU’s petition, Barcello said it was a special moment, and a huge surprise, when they got the big news. 

BYU’s assistant athletic director for compliance, Chad Gwilliam, had nonchalantly asked Barcello how he would feel if he were able to play on the court this year. Barcello replied, “Shoot, I’d give anything.” It was then Gwilliam told the athlete, “Well, get ready. You’re going to suit up.”

The team was ecstatic and Twitter blew up with positive responses.

Barcello said that while he enjoyed playing on Arizona’s team, he was excited to make the switch and felt compelled to come to BYU because of the combination of each of strong aspects of the BYU basketball program, namely the optimal coaching staff, the motivated teammates and the committed fan base. 

Surrounded by support on and off the court, Barcello said he feels extremely motivated to put in daily hard work to perform well in front of the Cougar fans, or as Barcello called them, the “best fans in the country.”

Sophomore Kolby Lee said as soon as they saw Gwilliam enter the practice facility the team was expecting additional bad news. Luckily, they were pleasantly surprised. 

“Let’s go!” Lee yelled. “We were pumped. We are pumped.”

With the team headed to season play next week, Lee said Barcello will be a valuable asset with his good shots and great passes. 

“I love playing with him just because he turns off-ball screens downhill quick,” Lee said. “He’ll find you when you’re open, so he’s nice to play with.”

The basketball home-opener will be on Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m. against Cal State Fullerton.

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