Matt Haarms thanks BYU fans during Senior Night in the Marriott Center. Haarms officially informed BYU that his first and only year as a Cougar would be his last. (Preston Crawley)

Matt Haarms will not return for extra year with BYU men’s basketball

Multiple BYU sports insiders reported on Thursday that BYU men’s basketball center Matt Haarms will not be returning to Provo for his extra year of eligibility.

The report originated from Vanquish the Foe’s Robby McCombs in a story written about another big man that BYU is pursuing, Illinois State transfer Dusan Mahorcic. In speaking with McCombs, Mahorcic revealed that the BYU coaching staff offered him a scholarship after Haarms informed them he would not be returning.

While Mahorcic has not yet committed to the Cougars, the offer reveals that BYU is indeed searching for another big man to replace Haarms’ presence in the paint. The 7-foot-3-inch Dutchman started 24 games for BYU during the 2020-21 season, averaging 11.3 points, five rebounds and two blocks per game.

Haarms mentioned at least twice during his time in Provo that he intended for it to be a one-year stint, including after the Cougars’ first-round exit in the NCAA Tournament in March.

“This is the end of my college career,” Haarms said after the loss to UCLA. “I’m grateful for this season at BYU, but it sucks to go out like this.”

Hopes were high among BYU fans when Haarms announced his transfer from Purdue to BYU in April 2020, but injuries kept him from getting into a rhythm early in the season. His breakout came at the end of the regular season when he put up two five-block performances against Loyola Marymount and Saint Mary’s, and helped the Cougars to a 6-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Haarms earned the men’s basketball team’s first West Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year award for his shot-blocking efforts, leaving a profound mark on the program and conference in just his first year at BYU. He also tied the BYU record for the second-most field goals made in a game without a miss, going 9-of-9 against Portland on Jan. 21. Only BYU legend Kresimir Cosic had a longer streak, going 12-of-12 in a game in 1971.

Haarms had a double-double in his final game as a Cougar, putting up 11 points, 10 rebounds and a pair of blocks in a loss to 11-seed UCLA, who would go on to the national semifinals.

Following the NCAA Tournament, head coach Mark Pope and his staff tried their hardest to “re-recruit” Haarms for another year. They sent him a puzzle with the hashtag #OneMoreYear, and Haarms even said he was “weighing his options” and asked Cougar Nation what they thought about him returning.

BYU insider Jake Hatch confirmed McCombs’ initial report, however, that despite the best efforts from Pope and his staff, Haarms would stay true to his initial statement that his one year at BYU would be the finale of his college basketball career.

Haarms was one of three seniors on the 2021 squad, along with guards Brandon Averette and Alex Barcello. Averette was the first to make the official split from BYU, and will be pursuing a pro career. Barcello has yet to announce his official plans, but Hatch indicated that “Barcello is likely to return to play for BYU hoops next season.”

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