In 2019, the BYU men’s basketball team endured unprecedented change when long-time head coach Dave Rose retired.
The Cougars enter 2020 under new coach Mark Pope with a renewed energy.
What happened in between ended up being a mixture of the good and the bad of college basketball.
Here are the Top 10 BYU men’s basketball stories of 2019.
1. Dave Rose retires
Just 15 days after the Cougars were eliminated from the WCC Tournament, Rose decided the time was right to retire after 22 years, 14 as the boss. With 348 career victories, eight NCAA Tournament appearances and 13 consecutive 20-win seasons, Rose finished his stint with the top winning percentage in school history (.720). Ignore the NCAA’s pettiness in docking Rose 47wins for the Nick Emery situation. Rose is the GOAT when it comes to BYU men’s basketball coaching.
2. Welcome back
Less than a month after Rose retired — probably record time for BYU — former Cougar assistant Mark Pope was enticed away from Utah Valley to take over in Provo. Pope brought with him a new energy and a relentless determination. He’s navigated some tricky moments in the off-season and so far the Cougars are tracking for an NCAA bid in 2020.
3. Change of heart
After Rose retired, junior forward Yoeli Childs — as expected — announced he was leaving Provo for a run at a professional career. Just as unexpectedly, Childs reversed that decision on May 29 and opted to return for his senior year. Due to a paperwork error, the NCAA forced Childs to sit the first nine games of 2019-20. Since returning, Childs is averaging a double-double — 20.8 points, 10.4 rebounds — and appears poised to lead the Cougars to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015.
4. Nick Emery leaves program
It was a tumultuous career for the former Lone Peak high school All-American. After tremendous freshmen and sophomore seasons, Emery left for an LDS mission. When he returned his personal demons started to affect his play and his life. Emery was suspended nine games in 2018-19 for accepting gifts and trips from several BYU boosters. Emery announced his retirement from college basketball this summer but opted to take a shot at the Cougar coaches on social media on his way out. Hopefully, Emery can find peace in his post-basketball life.
5. Four years without NCAA berth
A stunning 80-57 loss to San Diego in the WCC Tournament left the Cougars at 19-13 and without post-season play for the first time since 2004-05, the year before Rose took over the program. BYU was 11-5 in conference play but blew a 14-point lead at home to San Francisco late in February and never recovered.
6. Jake comes home
Jake Toolson began his basketball career at BYU but during his sophomore year opted to transfer to play for Pope at Utah Valley. When Pope took the Cougar head coaching job, Toolson came with him. Toolson won the WAC Player of the Year for the Wolverines last season and has been solid for BYU this year, averaging 14.1 points per game and shooting 43% from the 3-point line.
7. The NCAA giveth, the NCAA taketh away
Former Arizona guard Alex Barcello transferred to BYU this summer and surprisingly was granted a waiver by the NCAA to play immediately. His impact as a defender, shooter and leader can’t be understated. Two other players who transferred to BYU from Utah Valley — 6-11 center Richard Harward and 6-10 forward Wyatt Lowell — were denied by the NCAA and will redshirt.
8. Let it fly
With Rose — a former Houston standout — in the front row, senior guard TJ Haws hit the game-winning shot against the red Cougars on Nov. 15 for a 72-71 win. Who cares if Haws was falling away and the shot hit the front rim before bouncing in? The celebration, which included Haws hugging radio color commentator Mark Durrant and then Rose and his wife Cheryl, was a big moment for BYU.
9. That hurts
Injuries are always a part of sports, but BYU suffered a pair of big ones before the season ever started. Sophomore big man Gavin Baxter (shoulder) is out for the year, making the Cougars paper thin in the post. Jesse Wade, who transferred from Gonzaga last year, is a great shooter and playmaker but a nagging knee injury and subsequent surgery likely has him out of the lineup for the year as well.
10. Jimmer moves to Euro League
BYU’s most famous basketball alumnus tore it up playing in the Chinese League and it earned him a big contract with Panathinaikos (Greece) in the Euro League. So far, Fredette has been a key cog for the Green, averaging 14.3 points and shooting 43% from the 3-point line. Other former Cougars – Eric Mika, Brandon Davies, Elijah Bryant and Kyle Collinsworth – played on various professional levels, holding onto their dreams of one day making it for good in the NBA.