New coach Kevin Young racking up wins as Dallin Hall recommits to BYU hoops

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PROVO β€” Among the first matters of business when Kevin Young accepted his first collegiate head coaching job at BYU, before his introductory press conference or first recruiting call, was a group FaceTime with his current roster.

The whole gang was there, though the experience was β€” as athletic director Tom Holmoe admitted to BYUtv β€” a bit awkward as the new coach who had never met his team viewed his players face-to-face for the first time in the position.

Still, Young made the most of it, relaying a key message to the group: He wanted them back.

"That's my first priority β€” those guys," Young later said. "I've already started building relationships with those guys, and we're going to take that part of it to a whole new level. If I learned anything in the NBA, this whole thing is about relationships. I've been able to build relationships with some of the best players in the world and am currently still working with those guys."

Less than two weeks later, Young β€” who is still with the Phoenix Suns as associate head coach through the remainder of the team's time in the playoffs β€” has built up enough of a relationship with most of his players to bring back a chunk of Mark Pope's squad that finished fifth in the Cougars' first season in the Big 12.

Dallin Hall made it official Friday, joining Richie Saunders and Trevin Young in committing to the #ForeverYoung era. A fourth, Noah Waterman, has been a driving force in keeping the roster together, Knell told BYUtv, and power forward Fousseyni Traore has yet to waiver from the program, has learned.

Saunders had interest from other programs, including a visit to Kentucky. Hall reportedly entertained interest from Duke and Virginia, and met former Utah State guard Steven Ashworth on the golf course during a visit to Creighton.

But two weeks after losing Pope and top assistant Cody Fueger to Kentucky, the Cougars have rebounded with stunning consistency.

Four of the five starters before Traore suffered a hamstring injury midway through the season have committed to return. The lone departure is Spencer Johnson, who exhausted his eligibility and will turn pro this summer.

Aly Khalifa β€” the pass-friendly Egyptian big who started the second half of the season after Traore's injury β€” has moved on, committing to Louisville for the 2025-26 season after he redshirts to heal a knee injury.

Backup center Atiki Ally Atiki and walk-on Tanner Hayhurst remain in the transfer portal, as does Marcus Adams Jr., the former four-star freshman who opted to transfer closer to his Southern California home prior to BYU's spin on the coaching carousel.

But Young β€” who returns to Utah County after spending a year as an assistant at Utah Valley and head coach of the now-defunct Utah Flash of the NBA developmental league β€” has performed admirably before the close of the primary transfer portal window May 1.

Jaxson Robinson, the reigning Big 12 sixth man of the year, has declared for the NBA draft, as expected. But the Cougars will add Corner Canyon four-star forward Brody Kozlowski and Idaho forward Isaac Davis next year.

A few more recruits are expected to follow, either from the transfer portal, junior colleges or unsigned high school seniors β€” and newly signed assistant coach Brandon Dunson is already working on all three.

As of Friday morning, BYU's roster for the 2024-25 season currently stands at:

  • Dallin Hall
  • Trey Stewart
  • Jared McGregor
  • Dawson Baker
  • Trevin Knell
  • Richie Saunders
  • Brody Kozlowski
  • Townsend Tripple
  • Noah Waterman
  • Isaac Davis
  • Fousseyni Traore

'It's going to be a challenge'

When Pope's decision to leave Provo for his alma mater after five seasons uprooted one of the better turnarounds in college basketball β€” from 19-15 in BYU's final season in the West Coast Conference to 23-11 and an NCAA Tournament berth in the Cougars' inaugural Big 12 campaign β€” his former team rebounded about as well as can be expected in the age of the transfer portal.

Young's first job was keeping his roster together. The next job involved recruiting, selling his vision to transfer targets and recruits that can make BYU a contender in arguably the best college basketball conference in America with four scholarships available.

Name, image and likeness deals play a role in recruiting and retention. But Young's vision for his players is a bit old-school, as well.

"All of them have ambitions of playing in the NBA," he said. "With my background, this is an amazing place and has been for a long time. But I want to take it to the next level. Let's make this palace the best place in college basketball and prepare them to play in the NBA."

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