Provo • If there’s one thing Mark Pope ends up being remembered for when his tenure at BYU comes to an end (not that he’s leaving, just thinking ahead), it’s going to be his recruiting skills.
He seemingly can get anyone to come play at BYU.
That was made more evident on Thursday when Purdue transfer Matt Haarms announced he would continue his collegiate career in Provo.
"I just felt like it was a really special opportunity,” Haarms told 247Sports. “I really believe in Coach [Mark] Pope and his staff. From first time they talked to me they really convinced me they are the best place and somewhere I can really expand my game and somewhere I can be a big part of their team. I think I can help them win.”
The 7-foot-3 center entered the NCAA Transfer Portal April 6, and initially announced his choices were between the programs at Arizona, Arkansas, Boston College, BYU, Gonzaga, Kentucky, Memphis, Minnesota, Texas Tech and UNC Greensboro.
His final three came down to BYU, Kentucky and Texas Tech. But Haarms will go from Boilermaker to Cougar.
Haarms averaged 8.6 points and 4.6 rebounds, shooting 52.4% from the field last season.
Where Haarms can contribute the most will be in rim protection. In 2018-19, as a sophomore, Haarms led the Big Ten in blocks with 2.1 per game and field goal percentage at 63.2%.
"No words can express how excited we are to welcome Matt to our BYU family,” Pope said in a statement. “Clearly with his size, athletic ability, versatility and skill set he has the potential to emerge as one of the premier bigs in college basketball. His passion for the game and intensity on the court are inspiring. There’s a reason he was one of the most sought-after transfers this offseason. And most important, he is one of the most intelligent, engaging, self-aware and giving players I have ever met. BYU fans are going to love this Matt Haarms. He has an extraordinarily bright future in the game.”
As a graduate transfer, Haarms is immediately eligible to play next season. His addition to the team will be an added relief for a program that is left figuring out how to replace three starters and two key reserves that graduated and made up more than 80% of the Cougars' scoring.
Haarms joins BYU's 2019-20 recruiting class that includes Gideon George and Dallin Hall, who signed earlier this month, and Spencer Johnson and Richie Saunders, who signed in November.
While Hall and Saunders will serve a church mission before enrolling at BYU, George and Johnson will both enroll this year. George, a 6-foot-6 forward, is a transfer from New Mexico Junior College and Johnson, a 6-foot-5 guard, is coming to Provo from Salt Lake Community College.