Dallin Hall and Richie Saunders are staying with BYU

After entering the transfer portal and exploring his options, Richie Saunders has announced he'll be returning to BYU.
Richie Saunders celebrates with fans following BYU's win over Kansas
Richie Saunders celebrates with fans following BYU's win over Kansas / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

Despite many signals that he'd be joining Mark Pope in Kentucky, Richie Saunders announced his plans to run it back for another year with the Cougars on Thursday night with a simple "let's do this thing."

Following his announcement, Dallin Hall's return was confirmed on Friday morning, bringing the number of rotation players in the portal to 0 and encouraging even more faith in Kevin Young's vision.

Hall entered the transfer portal almost immediately following Mark Pope's departure to Kentucky. He was the first domino to fall as Khalifa and Saunders followed suit. After Khalifa committed to Louisville, that left Hall and Saunders--with all the time in the world to compare their options and make a decision. Both players had options in the portal and were among the highest-rated transfer portal prospects available.

Hall's list of interested schools was impressive, including big names like Duke, Creighton, and Florida. With his choices laid out in front of him, Hall must have liked what he saw when Kevin Young pitched his program to the junior guard. Hall was rated 26th in assist-to-turnover ratio across the entire NCAA, and the team played its best when he had a good game over the course of the season.

Dallin Hall
Dallin Hall rallies his team for BYU's comeback effort against Duquesne / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

But in inverse order of how they fell, Kevin Young picked those dominoes back up, lifting Saunders out of the portal before bringing Hall back aboard. Richie Saunders has been a fan favorite with the Cougars, and seeing him enter the portal was a major gut punch for fans hoping the program could hold together.

When Pope met Saunders at the airport for his visit to Lexington, Cougar Nation let out a collective sigh. 247 Sports projected that Saunders was 100% committed to the Wildcats, and an article was submitted (and immediately taken down) that BYU's heart and soul would be taking off to the bluegrass state. This seemed to be the beginning of the end for the team's continuity.

But right when the last of our hope flickered out, Saunders' return to BYU became official. Joy! Dallin Hall hopped on the bandwagon this morning. Elation!

Whatever witchcraft Kevin Young is working behind the scenes to not only hold the team together, but gentrify the entire roster is amazing. As of this moment, the only player to leave BYU for Mark Pope's Kentucky team is the only one who has never played for Pope. Now isn't the time to take a victory lap--though the temptation is strong--but BYU basketball is stable once again.

In Young we trust.

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