BYU’s Lauren Gustin is having a breakout season for the Cougars. Here’s what’s behind it.

How did the nation’s second-leading rebounder, who originally committed to the University of Idaho, end up in Provo?

(Photo courtesy of Madeline Mortensen | BYU Athletics) BYU forward Lauren Gustin put up her eighth double-double against Pepperdine on Feb. 4, scoring 27 points and bring down 20 rebounds.

Provo • By now, BYU fans are very familiar with women’s basketball standouts Paisley Harding and redshirt sophomore Shaylee Gonzales. But there’s a new breakout star among the Cougars this season: Lauren Gustin.

On Feb. 4, against Pepperdine, the 6-foot-1 forward put up a historic performance — posting her eighth double-double of the season with 27 points and 20 rebounds. The rebounding act was the best in the last 40 years, since Tina Gunn pulled down 23 boards in a game against Utah State during the 1979-1980 season.

There’s no denying that Gustin has made a name for herself now. And if there’s just one thing she’d like people to remember her for, it’s for her ability to get rebounds. Sometimes you can’t control whether shots will go in or not, but a player can always control the effort put in to get a rebound, she said.

“I want to be known for working hard no matter what,” Gustin said. “Bringing that dedication and that toughness to every game regardless of how the game is going, the calls, what way they’re going. As far as that, I want them to know me for working hard no matter what.”

While it seems like Gustin was always meant to be a Cougar, she didn’t start out as one.

The Salem High School product originally committed to the University of Idaho. However, after a semester there, Gustin didn’t feel like it was the best choice. So instead, Gustin finished out her freshman year at Salt Lake Community College after committing to BYU.

Looking back, Gustin didn’t like the way her initial recruitment process went, but is grateful she was able to get another chance to find the right program to play for.

“I committed pretty early — it was sophomore year,” Gustin said. “I felt kind of rushed and I didn’t really love the recruitment process that much.”

Even though BYU had initially been part of the conversation in the first recruitment round, the Cougars’ program stood out even more the second time because of a particular player — Gonzales.

Gustin and her family moved to Arizona for a year due to her father’s job relocation. Her father, John Gustin, did some recon to find the best school (and team) for Lauren to play with. That led to Gustin playing alongside Gonzales her junior year, with the pair leading Mesquite High School to a state championship.

Knowing how much Gonzales was enjoying being in Provo, along with the continued relationship with coaches, was among the key reasons why Gustin felt like BYU would be the right spot for her.

“They also were close to home, which was really important for me to be around family and a big support system,” Gustin said. “I also just had heard really good things about them. … It was a crazy process, obviously, but I think it all worked out great in the end, how it played out.”

Without a doubt, the decision has also worked out great for the Cougars.

The addition of Gustin, who is currently second in the nation in rebounding (12.9 per game), has provided BYU with added depth and stability in a year where anything can change at any moment due to the ongoing pandemic. But the sophomore is used to constant change, having been born in Idaho, living in Utah most of her life, moving to Arizona for a year and now being part of her third collegiate program.

All the changes in her life have forced Gustin to adapt.

“Just be appreciative and thankful for every game, every practice because you never know if you’re going to play the next game, what’s going on,” Gustin said. “Definitely just taking everything day by day and trying to focus on the present, do the best in the present that I’m in. Transferring to schools, I just had to be comfortable with uncomfortable situations.”