The No. 1 high school basketball recruit in the country visits BYU on Monday. Here is how it came about

Five-star AJ Dybantsa will visit BYU on Monday for just his third unofficial visit.

It was the middle of the Phoenix Suns’ playoff series against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Anthony Edwards had just erupted for 33 points in his first statement game of many. The Suns’ coaching staff was hunkered down trying to figure out how to keep the young NBA superstar at bay.

Yet in the middle of the preparation, Suns assistant coach Kevin Young snuck away for a few hours for a clandestine meeting in Provo. His new recruiting duties could not wait.

This trip was urgent because Young was quietly laying the groundwork to get the No. 1 high school player in the country on campus. Among the people he was scheduled to see were Ace and Chelsea Dybantsa, the parents of 2025 five-star recruit AJ Dybantsa. It was their first time in Provo and they were ready to hear what Young had to say.

“The man flew in from Phoenix to see us,” Ace Dybantsa said, impressed by the initiative.

Young wanted to explain his new vision for BYU to them. He leveraged his NBA experience and explained how he wanted to make BYU a destination for top recruits to get to the league. Provo, in Young’s mind, could be a realistic option for five-star players. He already had the trust of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Chris Paul. Why couldn’t he earn the faith of Dybantsa too?

BYU’s impression didn’t stop with Young. Later in the trip, the Dybantsas were eating dinner when Utah Jazz CEO and BYU great Danny Ainge came in to say hello.

A little over a month later, Young will get what he wanted. AJ Dybantsa — who recently announced that he will play his senior season of high school at Utah Prep in Hurricane — will tour BYU on Monday for an unofficial visit. While it is far from a commitment, simply getting the best player in the class of 2025 on campus is a significant step for Young.

It signifies the change in recruiting potential. No longer is BYU fishing for the under-recruited player who might grow into an all-conference talent. Young is going big-game hunting in recruiting from the jump and inserting himself in battles with the largest names in the sport. Dybantsa has only visited two other schools — USC and Auburn — and is being recruited heavily by Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and others.

To some degree, Dybantsa’s visit is validation that Young’s vision can work. With BYU’s Big 12 affiliation, an NBA experienced coach and key NBA-connected alums behind him, Young is already showing progress on the recruiting trail. He secured a commitment from Egor Demin, a top Russian prospect who could be an NBA lottery pick, last week. Rutgers transfer Mawot Mag commited on Sunday. Young reeled in four-star Brody Kozlowski in April. And now the top rising senior, and likely one-and-done college player, is hearing him out.

(Rick Bowmer | AP) BYU introduces men's basketball coach Kevin Young during a news conference Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Provo.

BYU plans to roll out of the red carpet again this Monday. Along with Young, AJ Dybantsa expects to meet with Ainge and Jazz owner Ryan Smith. Smith and Ainge have been part of BYU’s recruiting visits often since Young got to town, recruits told The Salt Lake Tribune. It is a way for BYU to emphasize an NBA connection as a critical selling point.

AJ Dybantsa is especially interested in meeting Ainge. “Knew him from Boston,” said Dybantsa, who grew up in the city where Ainge became a legend with the Celtics as a player and executive.

Monday will also be crucial for Young to develop a relationship directly with the player. AJ Dybantsa said he doesn’t know Young well. He had a phone call with him last week and BYU only formally offered him a few days ago. He said he would not have visited BYU without an official offer.

“Never met him. Talked for like 10 minutes,” AJ Dybantsa said of his current relationship with Young.

Dybantsa just transferred from Prolific Prep in California to Utah Prep in Hurricane. Dybantsa thought the move helped spark the BYU offer.

“I didn’t get the BYU offer until I came,” he said. “I wouldn’t visit the school if I didn’t have the offer. So if I wouldn’t have come [to Utah] I wouldn’t have got the offer.”

No matter what happens this week, Dybantsa is far away from a decision.

After Peach Jam in late July, the top showcase for high school talent, Dybantsa will narrow down his list to get a top seven or eight schools, he said.

In September and October, he will take four to six official visits. He has not finalized a list of where those visits will be. In February he will announce his decision.

“I’ll narrow my list down and take four to six visits in the fall,” he said.

But for now, Monday is a significant day for Young’s new BYU program. His NBA recruiting vision will take one more step forward.