By LARRY VAUGHT
Going into next season BYU already had 6-11 Richard Harward, 6-10 Wyatt Lowell, 6-9 Gavin Baxter and 6-9 Kolby Lee on its roster.
Going into next season, Kentucky does not have a true center and no player taller than 6-8.
Yet 7-3 Purdue center picked BYU, not Kentucky. The graduate transfer announced his choice today and will be eligible next season.
Haarms told 247Sports it was a “special opportunity” to play at BYU because of coach Mark Pope, a member of UK’s 1996 national championship team. Haarms felt he could expand his game more at BYU than any other school.
Some wonder why Haarms would leave Purdue and not go to a “higher” level program like Kentucky. He told 247Sports he never approached it that way.
“I never viewed them as higher or lower than the other. I think and my opinion of the next level is you can get there from anywhere,” Haarms said.
Haarms also noted that he’s spent a considerable amount of time on the phone with Pope, and was impressed with his energy and approach.
“Coach Pope is just an awesome guy,” Haarms said. “He’s super high energy. He really doesn’t quit. He’s a guy that always would say it’d be three minutes and then we’d talk for 40 minutes because we had so much to talk about.”
Haarms averaged 8.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season and shot 52.4-percent from the field. The season before Haarms averaged 9.4 points and hit 63.2-percent from the field.
Haarms has over 200 career blocked shots, perhaps the primary reason UK wanted him. However, with BYU’s size he’ll likely have more freedom to play some on the perimeter like he wants to be able to do.
Plus, college basketball writers and recruiting analysts told me they were not sure the “spotlight” at UK would be for Haarms because he doesn’t like a lot of attention. Going to BYU certainly won’t put nearly the same daily spotlight on him.
While UK certainly will find other players, this is a big plus for Pope to beat Kentucky, Texas Tech and others for perhaps the top graduate transfer in the nation.