Matt Haarms is ready to move on.
The 7-foot-3 grad transfer from The Netherlands fit in well with the BYU men’s basketball program and had a successful campaign in 2020-21. Haarms maintained throughout his year in Provo that it would be his last and on Friday he made it official with a social media post on his Instagram page.
“I could have never imagined how hard it would be to say goodbye to the BYU community,” he wrote. “From the day I committed here I was embraced by both my teammates and the community as a whole and I will be forever grateful for my year spent in Provo.
I am also extremely thankful for our coaching staff, who made me feel valued every single day and worked tirelessly to put me in the best position to take my game to the next level.
However, while my year here at BYU was one I will never forget, It is time for me to move into the next chapter of my life. After many conversations with those I trust, I have decided to forgo my final year of eligibility and enter the NBA Draft. Thank you to all the fans. Your support all season long made this season worth playing.”
After three seasons at Purdue, Haarms entered the transfer portal last summer as one of the top players available and surprised the college basketball world by choosing Mark Pope and the Cougars. In his only season in Provo, Haarms started 24 of 25 games and averaged 11.3 points and five rebounds per game while shooting 55% from the field and 80% from the foul line. He added 49 blocks and was named the West Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
His best game was a 23-point performance against Portland where he was 9 of 9 from the field. In what would turn out to be the final game of his college career, Haarms had a double-double (11 points, 10 rebounds) in BYU’s NCAA Tournament loss to UCLA on March 20.
Due to the COVID-19 virus, the NCAA granted all players an additional year of eligibility but Haarms has decided to move on to professional basketball. NBA Scouting Live lists Haarms’ pros as follows: Decent low post scorer, excels at scoring on off-ball motion plays, has stretch big potential, adequate defender, solid shot blocker and solid motor.
The cons listed include: Needs to improve his outside shot, playmaking skills and rebounding, can be undisciplined defensively, only an average athlete and old for a draft prospect, may have limited upside.
At this point, Haarms is more about potential than anything else. At 7-3, he is an intriguing prospect but is a longshot to be drafted in June. His path would be as a free agent or perhaps overseas.
Meanwhile, fellow grad transfer Brandon Averette, who also played one year in Provo, last week announced he had signed with the Dallas Heat, a professional team playing in the newly formed Evolution Basketball Association.
That leaves one more big decision to come from senior guard Alex Barcello, who led the Cougars in scoring last season at 16.1 points per game while shooting 48% from the 3-point line. Pope and his coaching staff hope Barcello could be swayed into staying one more season at BYU. His younger sister, Amanda, will be a freshman in the Cougar women’s team next fall.