So much for that scholarship issue, of having too many players for next year.
That math appears to be a done deal. At least it could be resolved thanks to Matt Carlino, who has decided to leave BYU's basketball team.
The announcement came Tuesday afternoon that the streaky backup point guard will leave Provo for his senior year.
The decision comes after BYU head coach Dave Rose did his traditional post-season "exit interviews" with players starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Carlino apparently was upfront about his plan and there wasn't much back-and-forth about prospects for next season. He had his future figured out, though it's unclear where he'll wind up.
Carlino apparently plans to graduate from BYU in June with a bachelor's degree in recreation management, and play at another Division I program right away. He would be able to take advantage of a common loophole that several key players across the country have prospered from in the last few seasons — getting his undergraduate degree and transferring to a school that offers a post-graduate degree that the previous school (in this case, BYU) doesn't offer.
A BYU official confirmed that the only stipulation is that Carlino won't be transferring inside the West Coast Conference — Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett is an old family friend — because he doesn't have a redshirt year available after starting his career at UCLA.
The quickness of it all may have been somewhat surprising, but hardly a total shock.
It also takes some of the heat off a potential scholarship stalemate. The Cougars had 14 of them committed with 13 allowed per season.
"I'm grateful for the opportunity that coach Rose and his staff have given me," Carlino said in a media release issued by the school Tuesday afternoon. "I'm also grateful for my teammates, professors, and advisors for making my time at BYU such a great experience; and helping me grow so much as a person. Thank you to the fans that have given me so much support. I feel very blessed that I was able to represent BYU."
Carlino arrived at BYU near the middle point of Jimmer Fredette's senior season (2010-11) after a brief stay at UCLA. There were a lot of questions as to why Carlino didn't stick around Ben Howland's Westwood program very long, but it became obvious after some scathing headline-making magazine and newspaper stories displayed just how much hazing and nastiness that younger players like Carlino were dealing with inside the Bruins program at that time.
After healing from a preseason concussion, and licking his wounds over not playing at UCLA, Carlino (who moved around in high school, as well, attended high schools in Arizona and Indiana) found BYU. He served as a practice player against Fredette and felt like his talents fit right in to be that kind of player — a shot-oriented point guard. Rose and his staff gave Fredette that leeway, and he became the national player of the year as a senior.
Carlino started the next season at the midway point (because of NCAA transfer rules) and thrived in a home loss to nationally ranked Baylor.
The sky seemed to be the limit that December afternoon, and did until the midway point of this year.
Mired in a four-game losing streak, Carlino was relegated to a sixth-man role.
He seemed to thrive as a points-producing sixth man — becoming more patient with shot selection, and focusing more on defense — and wound up posting career-best numbers (13.7 points, 4.3 assists and 1.7 steals).
He helped lead BYU (23-12) back to the NCAA Tournament after missing out last year, though Carlino didn't thrive individually in any of his three tries (counting a pair in 2011). He did have a strong finish in last year's NIT run, which set up optimistic thoughts from all parties heading into this year.
But Kyle Collinsworth supplanted him as the starter. Carlino didn't like playing the shooting-guard spot, and he had to be redefined as a reserve.
He was back in the starting lineup, however, against Oregon in the NCAA showcase after Collinsworth injured his knee in the West Coast Conference championship game.
Pessimists would say it was classic Carlino.
He made just 4-of-16 shots, including 2-of-7 from 3-point range that continued an end-of-season slump. He did have five assists and no turnovers in the 87-68 defeat. Carlino was vague about his future, though that's fair considering the high emotions at that point.
"I'm not even thinking about that right now," Carlino said in the post-game locker room. "I know I really enjoyed this season, this team."
Rose praised Carlino's play and adaptation to several reporters Monday during half-hour interview sessions he traditionally does shortly after the season ends. He even spoke of him in the future tense, as if there would be a role for Carlino next year.
The school issued the news release around 4 p.m. Rose asked a school staffer to notify reporters, indicating he knew a transfer was possible — but didn't know that option was actually being considered until Tuesday morning during their meeting.
Carlino's situation made him the most obvious transfer possibility, because of his diminished role and his eligibility situation (not having to sit out a year at the Division I level).
The senior-year transfer has been a big talking point around the NCAA. It's paid major dividends for some teams.
BYU played a few with key late-career transfers. DeAndre Kane went from Marshall to Iowa State, then helped the Cyclones win in Provo and fare well in the NCAA Tournament.
Oregon, which defeated the Cougars twice, had Mike Moser and Jason Calliste.
BYU needed to trim someone, at some point, before next year.
Rose told the Daily Herald on Monday that he figured the scholarship issue would work itself out.
Now that Carlino's gone, it remains unclear if more changes could possibly be in the works.
He wanted to wait until early May (and the close of the academic semester) to see how that dust settled.
Right now, Collinsworth would figure to be the starting point guard assuming he recovers successfully from knee surgery.
Sophomore to-be Frank Bartley IV has ballhandling experience from his high school days, but didn't play the spot because the Cougars appeared to be more than covered by Collinsworth and Carlino.