Eye on the Y: Mark Pope thinks Alex Barcello doesn’t get enough credit

Barcello is averaging 22 points per game on 74.1% shooting in BYU men’s basketball’s first three games of the season.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) BYU coach Mark Pope as BYU hosts San Diego State, NCAA basketball in Provo on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. Pope wants Alex Barcello to get some more recognition for the stellar start to his season.

Alex Barcello could hardly miss in Tuesday’s 81-49 rout of No. 12 Oregon. He scored 25 points and went 9 of 11 from the field, including 4 of 6 from the 3-point line.

But Barcello has been that prolific and efficient in all three games of this young 2021-22 season. He’s averaging 22 points per game on 74.1% shooting. That latter number is as eye-popping as it seems.

And Cougars coach Mark Pope can’t wrap his head around why Barcello isn’t being talked about in the manner fitting of a player who could be a favorite for making the All-America team.

“I don’t understand that,” Pope said after Tuesday’s game. “Who in the country has done what he’s done in the first three games? ... The guy is incredible. He is a star’s star, and he does it exactly right.”

After going on about Barcello’s numbers against Cleveland State and San Diego State — two teams that made the NCAA Tournament last March — Pope continued his effusive praise of Barcello and how he impacts the team outside the confines of a basketball court.

“You know the best thing he does? He makes our locker room right,” Pope said. “He’s spectacular. Anyway, you can tell I’m a fan.”

At the start of Pope’s comments, he said “there’s just no words left for this guy” before immediately saying many words about Barcello. It’s reminiscent of a coach lobbying for one of his players to win an MVP or Defensive Player of the Year award in the NBA.

While it may be too early in the season to put any player in the awards conversations, early returns on Barcello indicate that he is in for a career year. He almost left BYU after last season, but came back because he felt the Cougars had unfinished business and also because he wanted to improve his chances of getting drafted into the NBA, which he has said would be a dream come true.

The 6-foot-2 guard who transferred from Arizona might get his wish if he continues to play like he has been, especially against elite competition.

Quick Hits

Kalani Sitake deflected a question about his potential interest in open coaching jobs around college football.

• Four-star high school basketball recruit Collin Chandler committed to play at BYU after many thought he’d choose Utah.

Gordon Monson wrote about the New York Jets hiring former BYU quarterback John Beck to help Zack Wilson rediscover his game.

• Jimmer Fredette looks back at lessons learned during “Jimmermania.”

Other Voices

• Linebacker Drew Jensen hasn’t decided whether he’ll return to BYU next season or attend flight school, via Deseret News.

• Women’s basketball improved to 3-0 with a win over Arizona State, via KSL Sports.

• Three hot takes after BYU men’s basketball win over Oregon, via Sports Illustrated’s Cougs Daily.