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BYU’s offseason NIL defection hasn’t hurt the Cougars yet

Ques Glover’s abrupt transfer out of Provo raised some questions about the Cougars and NIL. But No. 21 team in the country has found answers this season.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brigham Young Cougars head coach Mark Pope has a chat with Brigham Young Cougars guard Jaxson Robinson (2), in basketball action between the Brigham Young Cougars and the Kansas State Wildcats, at the Marriott Center, on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024.

Provo • It looked for a time like the biggest story of BYU’s offseason wouldn’t be about what the Cougars added, but rather what they lost.

When former Samford guard Ques Glover committed to BYU in May and departed by August, head coach Mark Pope blamed name, image and likeness (NIL) money as the reason for his prized transfer’s abrupt decampment.

After his Cougars had beaten Glover’s new Kansas State squad on Saturday night, Pope reflected on the guard’s defection and the state of NIL at BYU. The coach said he couldn’t guarantee that a similar NIL mishap wouldn’t befall his program again, but pointed to other lessons learned in the process.

“I don’t know,” Pope said. “I think the spring and summers get complicated for everybody. So I think there is going to be all kinds of weirdness everywhere, all the time. I think it is just built into the deal.”

When Glover transferred out of Provo, Kansas State head coach Jermone Tang said the guard had lost trust in BYU.

“His family and him decided to leave because of a lack of trust,” Tang said. “... These young men are promised things going in and when they get there, when it is not delivered or they don’t see the ability… If there is a lack of trust in one area, it spreads to all areas. OK, so it wasn’t an NIL movement. It was a trust movement. And he just didn’t feel like they could do what they said they were going to do.”

Glover’s first season as a Wildcat hasn’t gone to plan. He was dealing with a knee injury before the season, tried to play in an exhibition game and then was ruled out for the year in early January.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Kansas State Wildcats guard Cam Carter (5) lands on the back of Brigham Young Cougars forward Noah Waterman (0), in basketball action between the Brigham Young Cougars and the Kansas State Wildcats, at the Marriott Center, on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024.

BYU, meanwhile, has picked up the production since Glover left the backcourt shorthanded. Sophomore guard Dallin Hall has logged close to 30 minutes a night. Jaxson Robinson has played a hybrid of wing and backup point guard. Trey Stewart slid in for some emergency minutes on Saturday.

It’s all helped the Cougars become one of the most efficient offenses in the country (ranked No. 8) and shooting 36% from three.

“It’s kind of the way this team has operated all season actually,” Pope said after beating Kansas State 72-66. “If Aly [Khalifa] is down, Fouss [Traore] has got to be a monster and Atiki [Ally Atiki] has to be incredible right? Jax [Robinson] had a little spell where he was hurt and other guys had to step up. So I think that is the identity of this team. This team is so together and collected, guys are just like, ‘Make it up.’”

The Cougars have found an answer for Glover’s departure this year.

Going forward, however, Pope likely will have to answer questions from future transfers about Tang’s comments.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brigham Young Cougars center Aly Khalifa (50) looks for a shot as Kansas State Wildcats forward Will McNair Jr. (13) defends, in basketball action between the Brigham Young Cougars and the Kansas State Wildcats, at the Marriott Center, on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024.

“Everyone has to have some space in the portal,” he said. “But I saw something that [Houston coach] Kelvin [Sampson] said. He has to be one of the better coaches in the country. A friend of mine for 30 years. He just talked about growing from within. And there is a part of us that is doing that right now. It is what we believe in. So, we’ll see.”

The coach said that his priority will be retaining his current roster, plus onboarding some newcomers like Collin Chandler (a former top recruit serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

“I think we have a really special roster,” Pope said. “I think these guys have shown that they can really grow together. And get better. And I get really excited to think about what we can do together.”