Provo • Elijah Bryant and Payton Dastrup have left the BYU basketball program, for different reasons.
After some uncertainty, Yoeli Childs and Nick Emery are back, although they return under entirely different circumstances — Childs after testing the NBA Draft waters last spring and Emery after having withdrawn from school last October.
Also, hard-driving assistant coach Heath Schroyer took the top job at McNeese State and has been replaced by easygoing former player Lee Cummard.
To say it has been an eventful offseason for the Cougars would be an understatement.
A few more developments could be on the horizon, mostly involving personnel, but should not affect the 2018-19 lineup too much.
“We’re pretty set, as far as who will be playing for us this fall,” BYU coach Dave Rose said last month. “We have 15 guys now. We might bring in another guy or two. We have a couple transfers that we are recruiting right now who might come in and practice with us, but they won’t be eligible to play.”
Forward Braiden Shaw is still dealing with the ankle issue that made him miss all but one game last season and will be re-evaluated at the end of the summer. Ryan Andrus and Dalton Nixon are also recovering from surgeries and are a week or two away from participating.
Emery, who must sit out the first nine games due to NCAA sanctions for allegedly accepting extra benefits from a BYU booster, recently had his appendix removed and probably won’t be ready until early August.
Players have been working out with coaches for four hours a week since June 25 and are getting acquainted with returned missionaries Gavin Baxter and Connor Harding.
In the past, Rose has considered redshirting first-year players and/or returned missionaries, but that is no longer the case, due to relaxed transfer rules.
“There aren’t many basketball coaches who are interested in redshirting kids any more, because they turn into free agents [and transfer],” he said.
BYU’S PROJECTED 2018-19 ROSTER
Seniors • McKay Cannon, Braiden Shaw, Luke Worthington.
Juniors • Yoeli Childs, Nick Emery, Jahshire Hardnett, TJ Haws, Dalton Nixon, Zac Seljaas, Evan Troy.
Sophomores • Ryan Andrus, Rylan Bergersen.
Freshmen • Connor Harding, Gavin Baxter, Kolby Lee.
Note: Cannon and Troy are walk-ons.
The coach can’t discuss specific recruits or transfers, but one of those potential arrivals will be former Gonzaga guard Jesse Wade, who announced on Twitter on Wednesday that he will become a Cougar. The ex-Davis High star toured BYU’s facilities with his wife the last week of June and must sit out a year, per NCAA rules.
Wade’s release from Gonzaga was unconditional, unlike Dastrup’s. Dastrup is transferring to Oregon State.
“I worked as hard to try to keep Payton here as any kid ever,” Rose said. “I really believe that dude was ready to help us. He was ready to step in and make that contribution for us we have always expected he could make.”
Regarding Bryant’s decision to turn professional — BYU’s leading scorer last year did not get drafted but is playing for Philadelphia in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas this week — Rose said he “wishes the best” for Bryant but isn’t high on his chances of sticking on an NBA roster in October.
“I just don’t see how those guys who left early [Eric Mika and Bryant] the past two years will ever find their way to the NBA” due to how the process is set up to heavily favor first-round draft picks, he said. “I just don’t see it, but I hope they do.”
Mika averaged 14.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game for VL Pesaro in Italy last season and recently signed with a higher-level Italian team, Leonessa Brescia.
Childs, a 6-foot-8 junior-to-be who averaged 17.8 points and 8.6 rebounds last season, put his name in the draft before withdrawing it before the deadline.
“Yoeli had a great experience and the whole thing was communicated well,” Rose said.
When Childs wasn’t one of 69 players invited to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago in May, “he knew what he needed to do,” Rose said. “He said, ‘I know I need to come back, and get better.’ Eric and Eli will both have professional careers, but Yoeli wants to play in the NBA, and that’s the difference. That’s why he’s coming back.”
Rose called the ordeal with Emery “an interesting experience” that had plenty of twists and turns and said the NCAA made a thorough investigation.
“We are still in the process of trying to close the book on it, but as far as Nick’s eligibility is concerned, that’s been closed,” he said, while also wondering aloud how to incorporate a star player into the rotation 10 games into the season.