Can BYU Basketball be Elite Without Elite Recruits?

Last week, the Cougar basketball program lost another LDS recruit to a big-name program. 6′ 9″ forward from Arizona, Payton Daystrup, said that the Ohio State University “just clicked” with him and chose the Buckeyes over his other finalists, Virginia, Florida, and BYU.

For Cougar fans, the announcement was another punch in the gut that reminded them of LDS standout from Chicago, Jabari Parker, choosing Duke over the Y. (By the way, Jabari Parker scored 22 points in his college basketball debut on Friday, shooting 8/10 from the field, included 3/3 from three point range.). Dastrup’s choice hurt a bit more because many experts predicted he would chose BYU, probably because he has plans to serve a mission.

Many think BYU should be happy to even be in the conversation for 4- and 5- star recruits like Dastrup and Parker. ESPN seemed to think that BYU didn’t even belong in Parker’s list of finalists which also included Michigan State and Florida. In the short interview ESPN conducted with Parker minutes before he announced his commitment to Duke, the first question asked was whether BYU was on the list only because of Parker’s membership in the LDS church. (Go to the 49-second mark in this ESPN video to hear the question.).

Many BYU commentators hope to calm the fan base by assuring us that missing out on recruits like Dastrup and Parker is “not the end of the world.” After all, BYU basketball has recently landed some big-time recruits like the Lone Peak trifecta of Erik Mika, Nick Emery, and TJ Haws. Greg Wrubell told the Sports Bros via Twitter that he’s happy with the recruiting BYU’s done:

Even so, at the end of the day, should BYU fans be surprised that BYU basketball is not seriously competing for national championships when they are also not seriously competing for the best LDS recruits? 3-star recruits will, at the end of the day, give 3-star results. Eventually the Cougars run into teams that are taller, faster, and quicker than they are, and the result is another early exit from the NCAA tournament.

No one thinks that BYU can–or should–sign every talented LDS basketball player, but eventually a Parker or Dastrup has got to choose BYU. If BYU cannot start landing the big names, it will be doomed to leaving the NCAA tournament in the first or second round forever.

BYU fans deserve better than that. They deserve elite recruits like Parker and Dastrup to put the team over the top.

About the author

Andy Kartchner

I have a Ph.D. in sports analytics. No I don't. But I do have a law degree. And if there's one thing I learned in law school, it's how to write about sports.

I am Big Bro. My brother, Aaron (a.k.a. Little Bro), and I make up the Sports Bros, your one-stop shop for everything BYU sports.