Today is April 1, but the news that came out of BYU an hour ago was no April Fool’s joke. I’m sure some of you wish it was, others are glad it wasn’t.
Mercurial guard Matt Carlino is leaving BYU.
Carlino, who has one year of eligibility remaining, will graduate in June and will take advantage of an NCAA rule that allows players who have graduated to transfer without losing eligibility if they go to an institution that offers a graduate program that the school they left does not offer.
I really believe BYU coaches were caught off-guard by Carlino’s announcement, which obviously came during an exit interview with Rose today.
I had my annual sit-down interview with coach Dave Rose this morning (most reporters had theirs on Monday, but I was out of town and Rose was kind enough to give me a time slot this morning).
Here’s what Rose said when I asked him if any of the guys on the current roster would be moving on:
"Not right now, I don’t expect that. I do expect that there will be some type of attrition. It just kind of happens every year. We will go through our player interviews, and get to the end of the academic term, and then we will see where we actually stand.
But right now, I don’t know how that [scholarship crunch] is going to work out. I think it will work its way out, because it always does."
And it did.
I had a feeling after talking to Carlino in the locker room after the Oregon loss (In the NCAAs, reporters are allowed to go into locker rooms; that’s not the case at any other BYU game all season) that we might have watched his last game in a Cougar uniform.
I have also talked to, and received emails from, some people over the last few years who have insisted he might leave. I’ve hinted at it a bit, but was never willing to flat-out report it because I couldn’t get anyone to go on the record with it, let me use their name.
Here’s what Carlino said in the locker room that day when I asked him for his thoughts on next year:
"I am not really looking towards next year right now. It is so hard to even think about it. This group of guys, they are amazing. It is tough to even think about not playing with this dude [Mika] or all these guys. They are great. I wouldn’t want to go out there with anyone else. This team, we have had a lot of good times through the rough times. That says a lot about a team. I can’t look towards the future now, because this was a fun year. it was hard to see it end like this, but it was a fun year."
Then I asked Carlino about how coach Rose said this was his best season as a Cougar.
"I mean, it should be. I am older. I played well this year for the most part. I didn’t have too many stretches where I didn’t play well. I am not satisfied by any means. I just got to get better, and I will work in the offseason on a lot of stuff to get better," he said.
My colleague at the Tribune, Tony Jones, is predicting that Carlino will end up at Arizona State. That’s near where he lists his hometown (Arcadia, Ariz.) and where he played high school basketball before transferring to a school in Indiana.
I think Carlino is going to have several schools clamoring for his services, even some schools from the power conferences. We will see.
Back to my interview with Rose today. When I asked him specifically about Carlino, and whether he was worried about his role as a non-starter perhaps bugging him enough to transfer, Rose said the following:
"I think Matt had his best season for us as far as his ability to consistently play well for us, game after game. He had a great stretch there in January through February and March. I think that whatever his role is determined, Matt is obviously a guy who is in it to help the team win.
We don’t get through that stretch without his consistency and his desire to help the guys win."
Now, next year’s Cougars have to figure out how to win without him. Rose reiterated today that Kyle Collinsworth, if he returns healthy after knee surgery, will be the starting point guard the next two seasons for the Cougars. Of course, Collinsworth took that role from Carlino after the Utah game on Dec. 14.
"I think we all felt pretty comfortable with that, and there are so many reasons why at the start of the game we felt like that was a good move for us, and a lot of that was on the defensive end, a lot was on the offensive end, and decision-making to start a game. I think that Kyle has a real future at that position. I felt really comfortable with that decision."
I will have more from my chat with Rose in a later post.
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