BYU Basketball: Alex Barcello is coming back, now what?

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MARCH 09: Alex Barcello #13 of the Brigham Young Cougars drives against Jalen Suggs #1 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the championship game of the West Coast Conference basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena on March 9, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Bulldogs defeated the Cougars 88-78. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Friday night at a Fathers and Sons activity, it was announced that BYU Basketball star Alex Barcello will return for one more season.

When the final buzzer went off in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament between BYU and UCLA it felt like a huge opportunity lost for the three transfer starters Alex Barcello, Matt Haarms and Brandon Averette.

Both Brandon Averette and Matt Haarms quickly announced that they would not take advantage of an extra year of eligibility due to Covid 19 (although Haarms made things interesting for a few more weeks). That left Barcello.

There were quite a few different reasons why fans felt a bit more confident with Barcello staying. First, he has been at BYU longer. He has publicly said that he loves BYU and was likely a huge factor in getting his younger sister to commit to play for BYU Basketball as well. And as time went on it seemed more and more likely that he would stay.

Almost three months removed from his last game, he has finally committed to coming back.

Leadership

While Barcello didn’t have the kind of season that will go down in the history books like Jimmer Fredette, Danny Ainge, or Tyler Haws, he was a really good player and clearly the leader on the court. Barcello almost willed the Cougars back against UCLA by himself and was always a consistent player in finding ways to score points either by shooting or assisting.

This upcoming season, the players most likely to be on the court will be Gideon George, Caleb Lohner, Trevin Knell, Gavin Baxter and a bunch of players who have never played for BYU. Looking at that list, there isn’t a lot of BYU experience. Trevin Knell and Gavin Baxter will be the only key players who have been on the roster for more than one season, but neither saw the court significantly on a regular basis for those two years.

Having Barcello come back will be like having a good returning quarterback come back to play another year. He was a key part of the special 2020 season that lost their postseason dreams taken away from them due to Covid and the 2021 season that pitted them up against 11-seed, future Final Four UCLA.

Stats

While Barcello was the clear team leader this past season for BYU Basketball, there were times where he wasn’t assertive enough. Part of that was likely due to him being the 4th or 5th option the year before with Yoeli Childs, TJ Haws, and Jake Toolson being the clear top three players.

As the season went on however, Barcello got more comfortable with his role and it showed. In his final 10 games, Barcello averaged 17.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.2 steals. He did this all while shooting 46% from three, 48% from two and 89% from the free throw line. When you consider that three of those opponents were to future Final Four teams, it becomes very clear how good Barcello could be for the Cougars next year.

Expectations

There is almost a Jimmer Fredette feel to this. Although expecting anything resembling the final year of Jimmer’s career is not realistic, it isn’t crazy to think that he could have a bigger impact than what other great players like Jake Toolson or Kyle Collinsworth had in their final seasons. There is going to be a lot of talent around Barcello this year, especially with additions of Te’Jon Lucas, Atiki Ally Atiki, and Fousseyni Traore. Add in Trevin Knell getting another summer of three’s, Gideon George improving his play style, and Gavin Baxter getting healthy again, and this team could honestly be better than last year.

My expectation for Barcello is to be a fulltime facilitator of the offense. The only breaks he may get are brief moments before TV timeouts or if he gets in foul trouble. If he is on the court for 35+ minutes per game, it will mean he will need to be passing the ball more and allowing other guys to make plays. I believe that is how he can best be used.

With that said, I project a stat line that will look something like 18 points, five rebounds, five assists and one steal per game.