When BYU men’s basketball coach Mark Pope tackles the transfer portal, he doesn’t mess around.
One of the country’s top grad transfers, Purdue 7-foot-3 center Matt Haarms, has chosen to play his final year of college basketball in Provo for the 2020-21 season.
Haarms entered the transfer portal on April 6 and listed Kentucky, Texas Tech and BYU as his top three schools just this week.
“I just felt an absolutely awesome connection with them,” Haarms told Jeff Borzello of ESPN. “I came down to those three schools, and at that point, I was just looking at everything. I could weigh the pros and cons for hours on end, but I needed to make a decision on where I felt I could be the most successful and where I could be 100% mentally committed and where I truly trusted them.”
Haarms made 40 starts for Purdue in his three seasons there and is fourth all-time in blocks (210). As a redshirt junior he averaged 8.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game in 2019-20.
“No words can express how excited we are to welcome Matt to our BYU family,” Pope said. “Clearly with his size, athletic ability, versatility and skill set he has the potential to emerge as one of the premier bigs in college basketball. His passion for the game and intensity on the court are inspiring. There’s a reason he was one of the most sought-after transfers this offseason. And most important, he is one of the most intelligent, engaging, self-aware and giving players I have ever met. BYU fans are going to love this Matt Haarms. He has an extraordinarily bright future in the game.”
BYU posted a 24-8 record in last season and would have been a No. 5 or 6 seed had the NCAA Tournament been played. Haarms said he wanted to be a part of the excitement.
“Look at Coach [Mark] Pope and his staff. In the one year they’ve been there, they’ve done so many impressive things at BYU,” Haarms said. “They’re going to be in the conversation for one of the best staffs in the country. I’m in the best position to be successful. Coach Pope is an absolutely awesome guy. Other programs had more traditional success, but I can go there and be a part — a big part — of a team that wins.”
Haarms grew up in Amsterdam, played for the U-18 Dutch National Team and at one point was offered a professional contract. Instead he moved to the United States to compete one year at Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas. He was a three-star recruit that chose Purdue over offers from Colorado, Vanderbilt and Washington State.
“I expect to compete for a starting spot; I don’t want to be handed anything,” Haarms said. “I was skeptical of people that said I could do whatever I wanted. I’m competing. I hope to start and make a big impact. But nothing was promised to me, and that’s the way I like it.”