Patrick Kinahan: BYU may go Young in finding Pope's replacement

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PROVO — For a church-sponsored school with a limited pool of candidates, the BYU men's basketball program stands an excellent chance to land a competent coach.

Athletic director Tom Holmoe and university administrators can choose from among four known coaches, each of whom brings a different set of qualifications. Those interested in replacing Mark Pope include Phoenix Suns assistant Kevin Young, Utah assistant Chris Burgess, UNLV assistant Barret Peery and Lehi High coach Quincy Lewis.

Perhaps the most intriguing candidate is Young, who was promoted to associate head coach for the Suns in 2021 after serving one season as an assistant. The 42-year-old has extensive experience as assistant at multiple college and professional levels and as a head coach in the NBA's development league.

A Salt Lake City native, Young attended high school and college in Georgia. He was an assistant at Utah Valley in 2007-08 and a head coach for the Utah Flash (2010-11) and the Iowa Flash (2011-13).

He was one of three candidates for the head coaching position with the Brooklyn Nets and has been mentioned as a possibility for the Charlotte Hornets. He was a finalist for the Suns job last season that went to Frank Vogel, who kept Young as the lone holdover from Monty Williams' staff.

The Suns made Young, who has good relationships with Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith and legendary BYU alum Danny Ainge, the highest paid assistant coach in the NBA at more than $2 million a year. BYU likely could match Young's NBA salary.

BYU administrators reportedly were in Arizona on Monday to interview Young with the possibility of closing the deal. As of Monday afternoon, BYU had not scheduled formal meetings with Burgess, Peery or Lewis — although all three could get an interview.

Several others likely would be interested, including current BYU assistant Nick Robinson. Longtime NBA assistant Alex Jensen, who played on Utah's Final Four team in 1998, has yet to express a desire to leave his position with the Dallas Mavericks.

The common dominator is each is a member of BYU's sponsoring faith. Although being a Latter-day Saint is not a literal stipulation, the new coach is expected to be a faithful member.

To an extent, given the transfer portal, BYU likely will move quickly to hire a coach. Over the last week, three players have entered the transfer portal and star recruit Collin Chandler announced he will follow Pope to Kentucky.

Each of the potential transfers — Richie Saunders, Dallin Hall and Ali Khalifa — have not eliminated a return to BYU. They would want to gauge the new coach's interest in them and the remaining Cougars.

The players, who have been contacted by multiple programs, also want to explore their market value in terms of making money off the NIL rules. BYU likely has enough available NIL funds to compete in retaining these players.

Among the three, Peery is the only with head coaching experience at the college level. The Southern Utah graduate began coaching at his alma mater in 1995.

Along with numerous jobs as a college assistant, Peery was the head coach at Southern Idaho (2005-08), Indian Hills in Iowa (2011-2013) and at the Division I level with Portland State (2017-21), where he compiled a 63-57 record.

Born in Payson, Peery has deep ties to his home state. In addition to two separate stints at Southern Utah, he's coached at Utah Valley and Utah.

Burgess, who played for Rick Majerus at Utah after transferring from Duke, has worked as an assistant at Utah Valley, Utah and BYU. The current Utah assistant served under Pope at BYU from 2019-22.

With his extensive ties to BYU's rival, Burgess is perceived by some as a Ute who would use the job as a stepping stone. While anything is possible, Burgess would not have his eye on other jobs as much as Pope repeatedly did during his five years.

A highly respected high school coach with numerous state championships, Lewis was on Dave Rose's staff as an assistant at BYU. He could return as an assistant under the new coach.

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Patrick is a radio host for 97.5/1280 The Zone and the Zone Sports Network. He, along with David James, are on the air Monday-Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.


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