BYU basketball has Jack Gohlke to thank for the gift of Kevin Young

The Jack Gohlke butterfly effect, and how BYU secured a future with Coach Kevin Young.
Jack Gohlke led Oakland to the second round of the2024 NCAA Tournament, which is unfortunately more than can be said for BYU
Jack Gohlke led Oakland to the second round of the2024 NCAA Tournament, which is unfortunately more than can be said for BYU / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

On July 9, 2024, in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Oklahoma City Thunder Summer League team held an insurmountable lead over the Utah Jazz. With little time on the clock, OKC looked to the end of their bench to close out a game that was already in the books.

As the game clock inched nearer to its final minute, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard caught a pass on the left wing, put the ball on the floor and pump-faked a shot attempt to get Utah's Kyle Filipowski up in the air. With a glimpse of daylight, the ball handler fired a contested 3-pointer that met nothing but nylon on its way through the basket.

This event sparked a rare occurrence in professional sports, because the home crowd erupted for this visitor, as an entire arena celebrated a meaningless bucket for the opposing team in garbage time. The player's name? Jack Gohlke.

To the casual observer, drawing the line that connected a crowd in Salt Lake City to this shooting guard out of Pewaukee, Wisconsin will certainly make you dizzy. But to understand why this 3-ball was significant to the Beehive State requires a little history lesson.

So please, lean back in your office chair and follow me as I explain the Jack Gohlke butterfly effect, and why BYU fans should stand up and applaud this man.

The Jack Gohlke Butterfly Effect

Gohlke is a 3-point specialist in the purest sense of the word. Much like Duncan Robinson's early seasons with the Miami Heat, seeing Gohlke set foot inside the 3-point line was grounds to be benched. His shot chart looked like water during the days of Noah--everything was outside the arc.

After spending the first years of his collegiate eligibility playing for D-III Hillsdale College, Gohlke got a shot with Oakland University thanks to his ability to hit 3s at such a high rate. In his senior season, Gohlke led the Golden Grizzlies to a first round matchup against 3-seed Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament. Gohlke made his mark on college basketball lore in this game, hitting 10 3-pointers against Coach John Calipari's Wildcats to upset the blue blood.

Jack Gohlke, Reed Sheppard
Jack Gohlke had no fear as he launched a shot from long-distance over future top-3 pick, Reed Sheppard / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

This was the "flap of a butterfly's wings" that ignited a chain of events that no one could have foreseen.

With this loss, the Big Blue Nation faithful began to murmur towards their legendary head coach. Of course, the Wildcats had experienced great success with Coach Cal in charge, but a pattern of first-round upsets in recent years was enough to rock what had previously been a rock-solid relationship. When Calipari packed his bags for a new home in Fayetteville, Arkansas to coach the Razorbacks, one of the most highly-coveted head coaching positions in basketball was suddenly up for grabs.

Some, including yours truly, were quick to connect the dots between the vacant position and BYU's Mark Pope, who had enjoyed a sudden surge of success with the basketball program in his first season in a power conference. Though many other candidates across college hoops were Kentucky's preference, some suspected that Mark Pope's candidacy carried more merit than we may have originally been inclined to believe.

Many Cougar fans, of course, resisted the idea that Pope could land such a high profile position with a comparatively unimpressive resume.

Of course, Pope was brought on as the next commander of the Kentucky battleship, which suddenly left the BYU basketball program directionless. At a time when BYU basketball was hitting its stride, a sudden change of personnel knocked the Cougars' momentum off course.

Until Kevin Young stepped in a week later, of course. The highest-paid assistant in the NBA was heading to Provo to build something special: an NBA pipeline running directly through Provo, Utah. Impossible? For anyone not named Kevin Young, yeah probably impossible. Yet, for Coach Young and his incredible supporting staff, recruiting legitimate NBA talent has become completely possible. Projected first-round selections like Egor Demin and Kanon Catchings are now with the team.

From Calipari to Pope to Young, the current landscape of college hoops was, in part, due to some D-III transfer shooting guard's career performance in March. So when you see Utah's crowd celebrate a meaningless basket in a meaningless game, it's not unwarranted. Though he may not realize it, Jack Gohlke has indirectly forged a new destiny for BYU basketball.

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