With the regular season coming down the final stretch and no realistic shot at the NCAA Tournament, BYU fans should be doing everything in their power to make sure Yoeli Childs doesn’t leave.
For the past three seasons, BYU Basketball has been unable to keep a core together despite not graduating many seniors.
2016-17: The ‘Lone Peak 3’ only saw one year on the court together that featured TJ Haws and Eric Mika right off their missions and Nick Emery in his sophomore season. Yoeli Childs emerged as a freshman threat and the team did pretty well despite lacking experience. The future looked bright for BYU Basketball. Following the season, six players who still had eligibility left the team.
2017-2018: Mika decided to leave during the offseason and moved to Italy to play professionally with Consultinvest Pesaro. Yoeli Childs and Elijah Bryant stepped up to make a new core alongside TJ Haws and Nick Emery. Before the season began however, after some difficult times and trouble with the NCAA, Nick Emery left the team, again breaking up the core group. Following the season a total of four players left the team with eligibility still left.
2018-2019: This season appeared to be an even better year, with all of the same “core”talent returning plus the possibility of Nick Emery coming back. Elijah Bryant had other plans though. He declared for the draft and Emery was given a ten game suspension. Once again the core of the team was broken up, and for that the Cougars have had moments of struggle that probably wouldn’t have happened if last season’s core stuck together.
Throw in the constant turnover of players like Jordan Chapman, Payton Dastrup and Jamal Aytes and you can see why it would be crucial to keep a core together going into next season.
The likely losses for next season
McKay Cannon and Luke Worthington are going to graduate. Worthington is going to be made a Graduate Assistant Coach which will help out the team in about the same way as he does now. The talent of both players will be missed, but for the most part, offensively there is not much production being lost.
I suspect that there may be a transfer somewhere. Jashire Hardnett has already said he plans to transfer and Dalton Nixon may also be a possibility given the decrease in minutes he has received since the emergence of Gavin Baxter. But there haven’t been any reports yet on Nixon so he may return for his senior year, especially if he is wanting to finish out a degree at BYU.
What that leaves if Childs is gone
Being a Final Four team probably isn’t going to happen regardless of what moves BYU Basketball makes, but an NCAA team that advances to the second round? There is a real chance. Nick Emery will have a full offseason to improve as well as TJ Haws and Zac Seljaas. All three of those players will be seniors in the 2019-2020 season. None of them have ever experienced playing in the NCAA Tournament, in fact, nobody on the team has. Those three seniors are going to want to make it to the Big Dance really bad. Throw in younger talent like Gavin Baxter, Connor Harding and Gonzaga transfer Jesse Wade and there is really solid core.
But this roster features five guards and one forward. If we remember 2011, outside of Jimmer, once Brandon Davies was suspended the guards were shut down more effectively than before. That was because BYU only had Noah Hartsock and Charles Abouo which were both small forwards known more for their perimeter play. Although the Cougars went on to win many games including games against UNLV and Gonzaga, there was an obvious drop in production from the guards because they weren’t getting the open shots that they had when defenses had to be honest with Davies down low.
If next year’s team does not have Childs, it could look a lot like the 2010-2011 team after Davies was suspended. Can they win games? Absolutely. But if they play a team with two strong forwards similar to how Florida did in 2011, BYU is going to really struggle to get stops and score inside.
BYU’s potential with Childs
BYU seems to be figuring things out right now. Emery is starting to show glimpses of his old self and freshmen Gavin Baxter and Connor Harding are elevating their game. If the Cougars were playing as well as they are now at the beginning of the season, they probably would have three or four more wins and we would be watching the “Bubble Watch” every day. Not to be negative but during this span of playing better, Luke Worthington and Jashire Hardnett have been averaging a combined 4.5 PPG meaning that most of the production could be back next season. McKay Cannon has played better but even he averages just 3.2 PPG.
Every year we say the same thing, next year can be the year. And then the year passes and we wonder what happened. The answer is the core group always changes and if Childs leaves, it will likely happen again. But if he stays, I will be the first to say… WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR!