After a month of speculation, BYU assistant coach Chris Burgess is on the move to the University of Utah. That leaves one opening on Mark Pope’s staff.
An early priority for his replacement will be finding someone with a similar recruiting cache around the state. Burgess was known as an expert recruiter in Utah, being both a Provo native and a University of Utah alum.
Here are some early names that could make sense in replacing Pope’s longtime assistant.
Daniels is currently an assistant at Weber State, but has deep ties to Pope. Back in 2015, Daniels was on Pope’s first staff at Utah Valley University along with many current BYU assistants. Burgess was on that staff, along with BYU coach Cody Fueger.
When Pope left for BYU in 2019, Daniels elected to head to Ogden. But after three seasons at Weber, it would be a step up for Daniels to come to BYU — especially if he is offered the associate head coaching role.
Beyond his history with Pope, Daniels’ name carries weight in recruiting circles in Utah. His father, Donny Daniels, was an assistant coach at the University of Utah. Daniels himself grew up in Salt Lake City and started his coaching career at Southern Utah.
One more thing that makes sense about Daniels is his experience at the NBA level. He spent one year with the Orlando Magic on the basketball operations staff. As BYU enters the Big 12, having more NBA ties would put the program on par with the rest of the conference.
Everyone wants to talk about the current Utah Valley head coach Mark Madsen as a possibility to take an assistant spot at BYU. But, according to one source, this is more of a long shot.
Madsen replaced Pope as the head coach at UVU, but is a former NBA assistant coach and a rising star in college basketball. He took UVU to a 20-win season and beat BYU in Orem. Last year, UVU finished ranked 119 in KenPom, close to where Pope left UVU before he got the head coaching job at BYU.
Because of his success, and the recent blueprint for Pope to go from head coach at UVU to head coach at BYU, it might not make sense for the 37-year-old to make the move to assistant coach. With another strong season, Madsen could likely contend for a head coaching position in the 2023 cycle.
Jeff Bzdelik has experience in both the college and NBA ranks, most recently as an assistant coach for the New Orleans Pelicans in 2020.
Bzdelik hasn’t spent a lot of time recruiting in Utah, but would bring a wealth of knowledge when it comes to coaching at a high-major level. Bzdelik hired Pope as an assistant coach at Wake Forest in 2010 before Pope left for an assistant coaching position at BYU from 2011-15. If he was hired, it would be more for his experience and as a sounding board.
Bzdelik is older, at 69, but could likely bridge the gap as BYU transitions from the West Coast Conference to the Big 12. He has had coaching experience in the Pac-12, ACC and Big Ten.