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Lee chooses Dixie State, BYU hoops still active in transfer portal

By Darnell Dickson daily Herald - | Apr 26, 2021

The expected subtractions from the BYU men’s basketball roster are continuing.

So far, though, no additions.

Like most college programs, this summer is extremely busy in terms of roster movement and the Cougars are expected to turn over significantly.

The latest former BYU player to find a home is 6-9 forward Kolby Lee, who announced on social media on Monday he was headed south to play for Jon Judkins at Dixie State. Lee was one of four players from the 2020-21 roster that opted for the transfer portal after the Cougars were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament on March 20 by UCLA.

Over the weekend, oft-injured guard Jesse Wade revealed on social media that he was giving up basketball after graduating from BYU with a degree in Strategic Management from the BYU Marriott School of Business.

On April 15, junior guard Connor Harding chose to continue his playing career for Mark Madsen at Utah Valley. That leaves 6-10 sophomore Wyatt Lowell, who missed much of 2020-21 with an Achilles injury. Lowell has yet to announce his plans after joining Lee, Wade and Harding in the transfer portal.

Lee was one of the most efficient players in the West Coast Conference in 2019-20 and started the first 15 games last season. But BYU coach Mark Pope decided to give more minutes to fast-rising freshman Caleb Lohner and junior college transfer Gideon George. Lee played just 20 minutes total in the final ten games of the season and was looking for more playing time.

Dixie State assistant coach Andrew May, who was an assistant at BYU when Lee arrived in Provo, was a guest on ESPN 960 on Monday.

“The first time I saw Kolby live was at the BYU basketball camp,” he said. “He was crushing kids and we had him play with our guys. He was skilled and had a good feel for the game. When he hit the transfer portal, I called him immediately and told him, ‘We’d love to have you.’

“He fits us so perfectly. It was great to be able to know what we’re getting. We know who he is as a person and a leader as well as who he is on the floor. I had no problem going to Coach (Judkins) and saying ‘here’s someone we should get.'”

May said last year’s starter at center for Dixie State, Jarod Greene, was retiring from basketball after suffering his seventh concussion, which created a open spot for Lee to fill.

“He’ll make an immediate impact,” May said. “Chris Burgess did a fantastic job of developing him. Kolby can score in the post. He has the ability to run, to seal, to score over both shoulders and to hit perimeter shots. He really changes the game for us.”

Lee’s wife, Kayla Belles-Lee, is a member of the BYU women’s basketball team and is expected to continue to play for Jeff Judkins next season.

Meanwhile, Pope and the men’s program have swung and missed in the transfer portal so far. That includes Mike Saunders Jr. of Cincinnati, a high school teammate of Lohner. Saunders talked to Pope after entering the transfer portal but eventually decided to rejoin the Bearcat program and new coach Wes Miller.

According to Vanquish the Foe, BYU is one of the schools in the running for former Duke guard Jordan Goldwire. On Monday, 24/7 recruiting analyst Dushawn London indicated the Cougars were one of 15 teams that have contacted former TCU guard Taryn Todd, so it appears Pope and his coaching staff will continue to search for more players in the transfer portal until somebody says, “yes.”

Meanwhile, seniors Matt Haarms, Alex Barcello and Brandon Averette have yet to announce their decision on whether they will be joining the Cougars next season, aside from cryptic messages on social media. BYU is also bringing in two talented but raw freshmen forwards in Atiki Ally Atiki and Fousseyni Traore as well as former American Fork guard Trey Stewart, who is returning from a church mission.

As of Monday, the Verbal Commits website lists 1,467 players active in the transfer portal.


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