BYU finds its next head coach in Phoenix Suns assistant Kevin Young

Young will come to the college ranks from the NBA to replace head coach Mark Pope.

(Mary Schwalm | AP) Phoenix Suns acting head coach Kevin Young yells to his team during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics, Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, in Boston.

BYU pulled a name from the NBA to replace Mark Pope.

Kevin Young, the longtime NBA assistant coach, will take over in Provo. He was the associate head coach for the Phoenix Suns last year and just interviewed to be the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

He will join BYU when the Suns’ playoff runs ends. But he will begin recruiting immediately.

Young has spent the last 12 years in the league, going from the G League to becoming a head coaching candidate. He started with the Utah Flash and then spent four years on the Philadelphia 76ers staff and another four with the Suns.

Prying him away from the NBA — where there is no NIL or year-round transfer portal — represents a big win for BYU. Now in the Big 12, the salary and the job status were enough to get an NBA coach to come down to the college level.

BYU offered Young a seven-year deal worth around $30 million, according to CBS Sports. BYU also bypassed its rule to formally interview three candidates, according to the report. That sped up the process to ensure Young could get to Provo.

Young was hired five days after Pope left for Kentucky. That is a quicker timeline than typical BYU hires.

“Kevin is someone we have had our eye on for a while,” BYU athletics director Tom Holmoe said in a news release. “... Kevin will bring a new perspective, with an extensive NBA background to our program. He is a phenomenal fit at BYU. He is humble, fun and super intelligent. Cougar Nation is going to love getting to know Kevin.”

Young is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was born in Salt Lake but played high school basketball in Georgia.

Holmoe considered several options during the process. But Young was the biggest name among them. For BYU to make a significant hire after Pope left for Kentucky was important for the trajectory of the program.

“That’s a really good get for BYU,” Utah Jazz CEO and BYU great Danny Ainge said Tuesday. “I tried to hire Kevin up 10 years ago to run our G league organization back in Boston. He was a guy that we interviewed last year for the head coaching job here and was incredibly impressive. And I knew after those interviews that he would be a head coach — I thought a new head coach in the NBA. I know he was in the Brooklyn chase and in the Charlotte chase as well and should have been.”

Ainge and Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith were influential in the hiring. Smith will help pay Young’s salary, according to CBS Sports, and put millions of dollars into the program over the next few years. That level of investment is meant to keep BYU competitive in the Big 12 as the league gets more difficult.

Young’s first task will be putting together a roster. Several impact players — including Dallin Hall, Aly Khalifa, Richie Saunders and Jaxson Robinson — are deciding where they will play next year. The Cougars just lost their best recruit, Collin Chandler, to Kentucky.

Young’s first introduction to the transfer portal will come quickly. The last time he coached at the college level was in 2008 at Oxford College in Georgia. He also briefly worked at Utah Valley before that.