Provo • Saturday’s game against his former team in the Zions Bank Beehive Classic represents another chance to compete for BYU guard McKay Cannon.
Nothing more, nothing less.
The Cougars (7-2) take on Weber State (4-4) at 8 p.m. at Vivint Smart Home Arena in the second game of the long-awaited event’s doubleheader. But Cannon, the former Wildcat, says he just is thankful that the NCAA granted his eligibility waiver request and doesn’t need revenge or vindication of any sort.
And he’s certainly not bitter.
“It is going to be different, obviously,” said the 6-foot junior who has scored 29 points and registered 10 assists in 75 minutes. “I still have a great relationship with a lot of the Weber State guys, and I still keep tabs on them. It is just going to be weird seeing them and knowing I have to go play against them.”
Cannon, from Shelley, Idaho, started in 33 games and played in all 35 for Weber State in 2015-16 after a church mission to Chile. He scored 10 points and had five assists in WSU’s NCAA Tournament loss to Xavier in 2016.
“Everything was going good and I got married [to WSU track athlete Maddie Ball] after the season,” he said. “Obviously things changed.”
Cannon started the first seven games of his sophomore season, but his minutes decreased and he averaged just 2.6 points per game in 2016-17. Weber State coaches decided not to renew his scholarship and hinted that he wasn’t the same player as he was before his marriage.
“For whatever reason, it didn’t work out,” Cannon said. “It wasn’t just solely on Weber State. There are things that I could have done better. When it came to the end of the season last year, they didn’t have the same interest in me, and I was kinda feeling that about them. So it was the best thing for both of us. Obviously there are no hard feelings.”
When Cannon announced he was leaving, WSU coach Randy Rahe told the Standard-Examiner that he fully supported the decision.
“We wish him nothing but the best of luck and we’ll be here to help him with anything he needs along the way. We really appreciate McKay’s contributions to our program for the last two years,” Rahe told the Ogden newspaper.
Cannon, who was raised on a dairy farm, wanted to go to Utah State and participate in its agriculture business program when he was growing up. But Weber State “recruited me hard and is where I felt was the right place to go,” he said.
When word got out that he was leaving Ogden, BYU coaches contacted him and offered a preferred walk-on spot. He accepted, but only after looking at a few other smaller schools offering scholarships.
BYU coach Dave Rose said the Cougars liked Cannon in high school, “but it was just a numbers thing” with available scholarships and didn’t recruit him heavily.
Cannon and BYU’s compliance office petitioned the NCAA for a waiver to its rule that transfers must sit out a year but considered it a long shot. The NCAA surprisingly granted Cannon eligibility just hours before the UVU game Nov. 29.
Cannon said he wants the details regarding the basis of his appeal to remain confidential.
“More than anything it was just about the environment [at WSU] and not being able to practice my [LDS] religion on a regular basis,” he said. “The Sabbath-day observance was one of the main points of my waiver.”
BYU does not allow its teams to play games or conduct practices on Sundays. Cannon’s wife, who is from Mapleton, also transferred to BYU and is participating on the Cougars’ women’s track and cross country teams.
“BYU ended up being the choice that we both wanted,” Cannon said. “I came on an unofficial visit and loved it. Obviously they have great facilities and a great fan base. It has been great.”
WEBER STATE VS. BYU
At Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City
Tipoff • 8 p.m. Saturday
TV • BYUtv
Radio • 1160 AM, 102.7 FM, Sirius XM 143
Records • Weber State 4-4, BYU 7-2
Series history • BYU leads 32-10
Last meeting • BYU won 77-66 (Dec. 7, 2016)
About the Wildcats • They have lost 13 straight games to BYU. … They are coming off an 83-56 loss at Utah Valley and have dropped two straight. … They are 1-2 on neutral courts, having defeated James Madison while losing to Bradley and Iona. … Jerrick Harding leads them in scoring with an 18.4 average, while Utah transfer Brekkott Chapman averages 14.0 points and 4.5 rebounds.
About the Cougars • Elijah Bryant had 17 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in their 80-68 win over Illinois State on Wednesday in Provo. …They are 16-4 overall at the Utah Jazz’s arena, including 12-1 under coach Dave Rose, and have won 11 straight there. … G TJ Haws has made a 3-pointer in 21 straight games.