Eye On The Y is The Salt Lake Tribune’s weekly newsletter on BYU athletics. Subscribe here.

Provo • Hardcore BYU basketball fans are well aware of two Wasatch Academy rising seniors that the new coaching staff is pursuing heavily, forwards Caleb Lohner and Maddy Sissoko.

New coach Mark Pope has been to Mount Pleasant at least two times to visit the pair, and he also made a much-discussed trip to West Africa a few weeks ago to visit Sissoko’s parents in Mali.

Perhaps lesser known are two other Tigers that have received scholarship offers from BYU, guard Richie Saunders and forward Leo Colimerio.

Saunders is an interesting case. The Cougars have a good chance at landing the 6-foot-5 shooting guard, if a recent chat with the former Riverton High star (freshman and sophomore seasons) is any indication.

“BYU has been really good to me,” Saunders said. “I really like BYU. I am trying to figure out what I want to do, but it is a really good school, and I could see myself playing there some day.”

Saunders, who averaged 11.5 points and 3.8 assists per game last season, is an excellent student with a 3.92 grade point average who also has offers from Creighton, Southern Utah, Utah Valley and Utah State. He has drawn interest from Stanford, Cal, Oklahoma and Utah.

“That is one thing that always pushes me, to be able to go to college not only for basketball, but for academics, too,” he said.

Saunders’ parents moved to Mount Pleasant so he could play for the Tigers and still live with them. His father commutes to Salt Lake City a couple times a week for work and works at home the other days.

“I have really great parents,” Richie Saunders said. “They are willing to make a lot of sacrifices for me. It really means a lot.”

BYU baseball on the rise

Is this BYU baseball team better than the one two years ago that won the West Coast Conference tournament and advanced to the NCAA regionals? It certainly has better pitching, coach Mike Littlewood said last week while discussing the freak accident that kept catcher Noah Hill out of only one game.

The Cougars face a crucial swing this weekend as they finish the regular season with a three-game set at WCC cellar-dweller Santa Clara. A sweep will give the Cougs the WCC title. BYU started the week off with a 10-3 win over Utah to even that season series at 1-1. My colleagues Kurt Kragthorpe and Gordon Monson provided coverage from Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City.

BYU golf team soars

After finishing a disappointing fourth at the WCC tournament in Stockton, Calif., last week, BYU’s men’s golf team rebounded nicely at the NCAA regionals in Pullman, Wash. Junior Rhett Rasmussen claimed the solo title and BYU rallied to place second behind Texas A&M and qualified for the NCAA finals next week in Fayetteville, Ark.

Other Voices

• Every year or so, former BYU defensive lineman Jason Buck pops off about his displeasure over BYU’s football independence, and this time around he got Brad Rock of the Deseret News to bite.

• Former BYU linebacker Adam Pulsipher was profiled in this piece by the Deseret News.

• And here’s a nice tribute to BYU’s senior baseball players by Darnell Dickson of the Provo Daily Herald.

Quotable

As you can read here, BYU’s softball team faces long odds at the NCAA Stillwater (Okla.) Regional this weekend, beginning Thursday when the Cougars (29-24) face No. 13 seed Oklahoma State (39-14) on its home field. What do the Cougars have to do to win the regional? I profiled senior catcher Libby Sugg before the tournament. Here’s her take on what it will take:

“I just think we have to click on all cylinders,” Sugg said. “At some times this year we were hitting and our pitching wasn’t there. Mostly our pitching was there and our hitting wasn’t there. It is going to take both sides of offense and defense being together to come out and win this thing.”

Around campus

• BYU’s ever-improving gymnastics team finished the 2019 season ranked No. 21 in the country, and advanced to the NCAA Regionals for the 10th consecutive season. Coach Guard Young was named MRGC Coach of the Year and junior Shannon Evans earned MRGC Gymnast of the Year honors. The squad loses just two seniors in 2020 and will add Maya Page, a recruit from Spring, Texas.

• BYU’s Track and Field teams continue to impress, on and off the track. We profiled one of those athletes, distance runner Erica Birk-Jarvis, on Mother’s Day last week.

BYU’s men’s team is ranked No. 3 in the country, while the women’s team is ranked No. 12. The NCAA’s western regionals (preliminaries) are next week.

All-American Andrea Stapleton-Johnson broke the BYU school record in the high jump at the BYU Invitational, clearing 1.89m/6-2.5 to beat the previous record of 1.88m set by Melinda Boice-Hale in 1994.

• BYU women’s basketball coach Jeff Judkins will have to replace an assistant coach because longtime assistant Dan Nielson was named the new head coach at Utah Valley University. Nielson replaces Cathy Nixon, who is moving into athletic department administration. Sean Walker of KSL.com has the details here.