BYU loses prized recruit to Kentucky as Mark Pope’s departure continues to hurt

Collin Chandler, BYU’s four-star prospect, is on the move.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Farmington's Collin Chandler as Lehi defeats Farmington High School in the 5A boys basketball state championship game, in Taylorsville on Saturday, March 6, 2021.

BYU’s biggest fear from a coaching change just became a reality.

Collin Chandler, the Cougars’ highest-rated recruit in years, has flipped his commitment from BYU and is headed to Kentucky. He will join head coach Mark Pope, who just left Provo for Lexington last Friday.

On Tuesday morning, BYU announced the hiring of Phoenix Suns assistant Kevin Young as the Cougars’ next head coach — but not before Chandler and a handful of other key pieces began exploring their options elsewhere.

Chandler is Pope’s first commitment since moving to Kentucky.

Chandler’s recruitment was a huge win for the program two years ago. He played at Farmington High and is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was heavily recruited by Gonzaga, Arizona, Utah and others, but committed to Pope before going on a mission. He won the Gatorade Player of the Year in the state in his senior season.

Several other BYU players have entered the transfer portal since a Friday morning meeting.

Point guard Dallin Hall is weighing his options. Aly Khalifa could potentially follow Pope to Kentucky. Richie Saunders entered the portal, citing BYU’s lack of a coach.

Hall is fielding plenty of interest. But one school pursuing him is Creighton, where former Utah State point guard Steven Ashworth went last year. Ashworth was paid several hundred thousand dollars to move to Omaha, according to sources with knowledge of the NIL figure. Hall could command a similar payday in the mid six-figure range.

As for Khalifa, he could also return to BYU but is debating between going to the Wildcats. During his recruitment to BYU last year, Pope traveled to Egypt to see Khalifa’s family. Their relationship is strong and he thrives in Pope’s five-out offense. Khalifa also has interest from Louisville.

As for Saunders, it was largely expected he would enter the portal after Pope left. He announced his decision on Monday.