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Craig Smith adds BYU assistant Chris Burgess to Utah coaching staff

BYU assistant basketball coach Chris Burgess poses for photos while at the Marriott Center Annex in Provo on Friday, May 3, 2019.

BYU assistant basketball coach Chris Burgess poses for photos while at the Marriott Center Annex in Provo on Friday, May 3, 2019. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY β€” All roads lead to home β€” or at least in the case of BYU assistant coach Chris Burgess, the road leads back to his alma mater.

The former Runnin' Utes basketball star who played under Rick Majerus is coming back home. The 42-year-old Provo native accepted an assistant coach position on Utah's staff this week, according to multiple sources. The position was left vacant when Eric Peterson accepted the head coaching job at South Dakota in March.

An official announcement from the university is expected as early as Wednesday.

Burgess, who played at Utah from 2000-02 after a two-year stint at Duke, comes back to Utah as a highly sought after coach in the state, and one that has developed an identity as strong recruiting.

While at BYU, Burgess was instrumental in bringing in top talent to the program to help the Cougars compete in the West Coast Conference. Known for his development of post players, Burgess mentored Akolda Manyang to WAC All-Defensive Team honors in 2018 and helped Wyatt Lowell earned WAC Freshman of the Year in 2019.

A year after moving to BYU, the Cougars went 20-7 and earned their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2015, where they drew a No. 6 seed before an upset loss to UCLA in the first round. Matt Haarms, a Purdue transfer who worked extensively with Burgess, was named West Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year that season.

As a player, Burgess averaged a team-high 13.2 points and 7.2 rebounds his senior year as a dominant big before spending a decade playing professional basketball oversees.

He jumped to the coaching ranks in 2015 as an assistant at Utah Valley University, where he stayed until Mark Pope accepted the head coach position at BYU in 2019. Burgess followed Pope to Provo as an assistant and has been there until he accepted the position under Craig Smith's staff.

Prior to joining the Wolverines' staff, he was an assistant coach at Indian Hills Community College for one year and a volunteer assistant at Salt Lake Community College in 2014.

As a Provo native, Burgess turned down several colleges to sign with Duke and earned the infamous quote from former BYU coach Roger Reid that he would let down 9 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by going to Durham over Provo.

The two later reunited when Burgess was hired at BYU, coming full circle on a legacy that hung over both hoops figures in 2019.

"It was so good to see him," Burgess told at the time. "I actually felt like a 16-year-old kid talking to him again. I got a picture with him. He got a picture with our whole staff."

Burgess concluded his career at Utah, where the former McDonald's All-American at Woodbridge High in Irvine, California, helped the Utes reach the NIT in 2001 and the NCAA Tournament in 2002. Following his collegiate career, he played professionally for 11 seasons in Turkey, Australia, the Philippines, South Korea, Egypt, Ukraine, Puerto Rico, Poland and the United Arab Emirates.

Burgess will join his daughter KJ on the Hill this upcoming season. The 6-foot-2 middle blocker signed with the Utes in November after a standout career at Lone Peak that included three state championships.

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Josh is the Sports Director for and beat writer of University of Utah athletics β€” primarily football, men’s basketball and gymnastics. He is also an Associated Press Top 25 voter for college football.
A proud graduate of Syracuse University, Sean Walker has covered BYU for since 2015, while also mixing in prep sports, education, and anything else his editors assign him to do.


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