Dallin Hall explains why he opted for return to BYU, new coach Kevin Young

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PROVO — Dallin Hall had a big decision to make, and only a few people to lean on to make it.

But after hours of long-distance travel, talking with a new coaching staff, and a lot of prayer, the BYU point guard discovered that everything he was looking for in college basketball — and perhaps the next step — was back home in Provo.

So the Fremont High graduate who earned the respect of former Jazz star Donovan Mitchell at a young age made his decision, and after debating the final decision with fellow transfer prospect and BYU teammate Richie Saunders, he finalized it by pressing "send" on his Instagram — a graphic that included Hall in a uniform next to the words "run it back."

His reasons for returning to BYU? That was found in the caption: "unfinished business."

But buried beneath the social media post and the immediate excitement was a decision that stressed Hall in the hours, days and weeks after former head coach Mark Pope left for the same position at his alma mater, Kentucky. The Fremont High graduate said around 15 schools reached out to him, with key interest coming from Utah, Utah State and Creighton.

He even took a visit to Creighton, which became public when former Lone Peak star and Utah State transfer Steven Ashworth posted a photo on social media from an Omaha-area golf course with Hall.

"It's a little different in the portal than in high school. Teams want you right now, and everything happens a lot faster," Hall said after a workout Thursday afternoon at BYU. "But I'm super grateful for my time there, because I learned a lot of things about myself, my game, and I think it'll help me going forward."

Not everything he learned was about basketball, or the 9.0 points, 5.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 29.3 minutes per game he averaged as a sophomore starter for the Cougars.

"I leaned first that prayer is super important to me in making my decisions. I learned that God is aware of me," Hall said. "I learned that family is the most important; I knew that, but I think it was reaffirmed during the process. And I learned a lot of things about my game, basketball-wise.

"We played against a lot of teams that were recruiting me, and they told me things that they thought I need to get better at, things they thought I would need to work on and improve. I was just trying to be a sponge in the portal as well and take everything I could."

Hall's recommitment to Kevin Young and the program he was building at BYU sparked plenty of trust in the former highest paid assistant coach in the NBA, one who was fast-tracked for an NBA head coaching job before opting for a multi-year with the Cougars at his wife's alma mater.

He wasn't the first one to recommit; Trevin Knell and Fousseyni Traore were both vocal about their decision to stay with the program they had called home for three or more years.

But adding an affirmation from Hall and Saunders led to a bump in confidence of Young's system, and perhaps played a role in attracting talent like four-star recruits Elijah Crawford and Brody Kozlowski, as well as four-star transfers Keba Keita (Utah) and Mawot Mag (Rutgers).

"I never talked to them together; it was always separate. But the one commonality between the two was, how can I help get them better?" Young said. "The staff we put together has an extremely strong player development background, and they've soaked it up so far, a couple days into it. That's been the them, trying to get them back and that's been what they've sunk their teeth into."

Speak with Young for 10 minutes, and it becomes obvious that he's a relationship builder. And he quickly built a relationship with Hall and Saunders that spread to the rest of the team and fueled an offseason as active and eventful as one BYU basketball has had in recent memory.

BYU's head men's basketball coach Kevin Young speaks with Dallin Hall after practice at BYU in Provo on Thursday, June 6, 2024.
BYU's head men's basketball coach Kevin Young speaks with Dallin Hall after practice at BYU in Provo on Thursday, June 6, 2024. (Photo: Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

It became easy to tell how much relationships matter to Young as he was putting together his staff of assistant coaches: Brandon Dunson, Chris Burgess, Will Voigt, Tim Fanning and John Linehan.

"I think everything starts with the people. Personality fits, are they a good person? That's the No. 1 thing," Young said. "And then within that, it's what boxes do they check for me, whether that's college expertise, international expertise, tactical expertise. That's why I didn't rush out and just hire five guys right out of the gate; it was a process to make sure we got the right people in here. We went through a pretty good vetting process.

"Obviously, I had a relationship with the majority of them, but we used the administration here to vet these guys with me and do it together."

As is often the case in college basketball's current era, NIL played a role in Hall's return to BYU. The rising junior declined to discuss his NIL offers, but has openly admitted its role in college basketball previously.

But for Hall, he found that everything he was looking for in his next stop was also at his old stop.

"Obviously, BYU has been an incredible home," he said. "I've been treated with a bunch of love and respect, and I loved my time here. ... Coach Young came in, we had a lot of great conversations, talking about how he saw me fitting in his style of play and the things he wanted to help me grow my game in order to make my dreams of being a pro reality.

"That combination, as well as just the relationship that we built over time, is ultimately what helped me feel really good about coming back here and accomplishing all of my goals, on and off the court."


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