BYU’s Nick Emery announces his retirement from college basketball

Provo • In the latest twist of a complicated college basketball career, BYU guard Nick Emery is forgoing his senior season with the Cougars and retiring from basketball, he announced Tuesday.

“The day has come that I hang up the #4 Emery jersey,” he said via Twitter.

That’s a reference to how his brother, Jackson, also wore No. 4 for BYU, during a steady career highlighted by the Cougars’ 2011 trip to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16.

Jackson Emery tweeted, “Proud to have shared #4 with my lil bro. He bled blue through thick and thin."

In contrast to his brother’s consistent progression in the program during the Jimmer Fredette era, though, Nick Emery had an adventurous tenure in Provo, amid NCAA sanctions regarding extra benefits provided to him by boosters.

Emery joined former high school teammates Eric Mika and TJ Haws as the heralded “Lone Peak Three” at BYU, after helping the Knights win a mythical national championship in 2012. Following church missions, the threesome ended up playing only one season (2016-17) together, due to Mika’s turning pro with two years of eligibility remaining, and didn’t make the NCAA Tournament. Haws will be a senior in 2019-20, when BYU takes the court under new coach Mark Pope, who moved from Utah Valley University after Dave Rose retired in April.

Emery averaged 16.3 points as a freshman and 13.1 points as a sophomore, before his career was interrupted. He withdrew from the school in October 2017, missing that season for what he described as personal reasons, following a divorce. In the summer of 2018, BYU announced that he would be “reinstated” by the NCAA after being forced to sit the first nine games of the season. The NCAA’s penalties then were announced in November.

Emery was activated in early December, as scheduled, averaging 6.1 points with reduced playing time in 2018-19. His three-year career averages are 12.6 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.4 steals.

In a career framed by his involvement in BYU’s rare NCAA troubles, Emery will be remembered as of the one best shooters in school history (making a BYU record 10 3-pointers in a 2016 game at San Francisco) and a feisty competitor, in both a positive and negative sense. Emery was suspended for one game in December 2015 after punching Utah guard Brandon Taylor during a game at the Huntsman Center, leading Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak to interrupt the rivalry in the 2016-17 season. Emery missed the teams’ December 2017 meeting in Provo, then played a minor role in the Cougars’ victory last December at Vivint Smart Home Arena, where he and Krystkowiak had a cordial exchange.

The NCAA issues may have a more lasting effect on Emery’s legacy and the program’s image. Having determined that Emery received impermissible benefits, the NCAA forced BYU vacate 47 victories over his first two seasons in the program. The Cougars also lost a scholarship and were put on probation for two years.

The NCAA news release said the Committee on Infractions was concerned by the “unmonitored access” the boosters had to Emery and the men’s basketball program. The NCAA said boosters provided $12,000 in complimentary all-inclusive vacations, cash, meals, golf and the use of a car.

BYU has appealed the vacated-games ruling, on behalf of Rose’s record, as Pope takes over the program. “We are excited for Nick as he begins this next stage of his life,” Pope said in a news release Tuesday. “He has great things ahead.”