Kevin Young’s busy first week

It has been quite an eventful first week for the new BYU head coach, Kevin Young. Young is currently still an assistant coach for the Phoenix Suns, who are down 0-2 in their series against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Even with his busy NBA schedule, Young has been busy getting things done for BYU. Here is everything that took place during Young’s first full week on the job.

Monday

The week started off on a high note for BYU when four-star and ESPN Top 100 prospect Brody Kozlowski committed to BYU, the first commitment in the Kevin Young era. While it’s not as big of a signing as Colin Chandler, Kozlowski’s commitment to BYU is still a big-time get for the Cougars. For BYU to maintain competition in the Big 12, it has to acquire the best in-state recruits year in and year out. Kozlowski checks that box for BYU.

Tuesday

Perhaps the least surprising bit of news also finally dropped this week: Jaxson Robinson declared for the NBA draft.

Robinson had been radio silent until Tuesday about his future plans but announced he is entering the NBA draft. This season, Robinson won the Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year award and is the prototypical size for a 3-and-D wing at the next level. According to ESPN, Robinson is a projected late second-round pick. Robinson, a highly touted recruit out of high school, struggled his first two seasons to find his way in college basketball. At BYU, he grew into a professional prospect under Mark Pope in the last two seasons and was instrumental in the Cougar’s success this season. If Robinson is drafted, he will be the first BYU player drafted in the NBA since Jimmer Fredette. Something that Coach Young can build off of during his tenure at BYU.

The other domino that fell on Tuesday was the departure of Atiki Ally Atiki.

While at BYU, Atiki was an athletic role player off the bench. With the addition of Aly Khalifa last year, his minutes were reduced this season. Now, with Young’s new offensive system and philosophy, Atiki may not have seen much playing time next season at BYU and ultimately decided to find a better fit elsewhere. While Atiki is raw, his size and strength make him an attractive target to teams needing a high-flying big man. After Atiki entered the transfer portal, BYU had five scholarship players on the roster left from last season. Staring at a complete overhaul of the roster, Kevin Young pulled off exactly what he had planned to do: retain BYU’s current.

Thursday

When Young was hired as BYU’s head coach, he made it a point in his introductory press conference to recruit last season’s team back to Provo. Earlier this week, Richie Saunders and his wife visited Kentucky, and all signs pointed to Saunders going to Lexington until Thursday night.

Saunders’ return is a huge boost to BYU after Jaxson Robinson declared for the NBA draft. With Spencer Johnson and Robinson leaving, Saunders has the opportunity for a much larger role for the Cougars next season. Last season, Saunders had an offensive rating of 129.9 among role players, which was the 27th-best rating in the country, according to Kenpom. With even more opportunity, Saunders has the chance to blossom under his new head coach. Not only is Saunders’ return important on the floor, but his return cements him into the hearts of BYU fans forever for choosing to return and continue his career in Provo.

Friday

The other earth-shattering news hit BYU a few hours later when Dallin Hall also announced his return to BYU next season.

Hall is arguably the most important returning piece from BYU’s 2023-24 campaign. His career at BYU has had the highest of highs, but Hall has also endured some early struggles. At his best, Hall has taken the program to heights Cougar fans could never have dreamed of, like beating Kansas in Allan Fieldhouse. As the lone point guard on the roster last season, Hall was the engine for one of the best offenses in the country. Hall led the team in assists at 5.1 assists per game and could improve that next season under the new coaching staff. With Young’s experience coaching NBA point guards and the opportunity for Hall to shoulder even more of the offensive load next season, Hall’s return to Provo keeps BYU basketball in position to compete in the Big 12 and for an NCAA tournament appearance. If Young can fill in the keyholes on the roster left by Jaxson Robinson and Aly Khalifa, the Cougars are poised to make a run to the NCAA tournament and beyond.

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