BYU players who’ve invested sweat equity in program energized over the hiring of Kevin Young

BYU’s new men’s head basketball coach Kevin Young makes a few remarks during an announcement event in the Marriott Center in Provo on Wednesday, April 17, 2024.
BYU’s new men’s head basketball coach Kevin Young makes a few remarks during an announcement event in the Marriott Center in Provo on Wednesday, April 17, 2024.

Predictably, reaction to BYU’s quick and surprising hire of Phoenix Suns assistant coach Kevin Young has wrought positive vibes across the country — and beyond.

It would be hard to beat the one from Devin Booker, the Phoenix Suns All-Star shooting guard.

Declared Booker, “I’m excited for him and his family. He’s somebody I developed a great relationship with. Somebody I wish I could’ve played college basketball for.”

Booker played college ball at Kentucky.

That’ll surely find its way on a BYU recruiting brochure. Young was his developmental skills coach.

But what are former BYU basketball stars saying, besides Naismith Player of the Year Award winner Danny Ainge, who reportedly was hip deep in marrying up BYU and Young?

Well, here’s what BYU’s other Naismith Award Winner and CBS Sports Player of the Year Jimmer Fredette and others had to say about the new face of the program. It was a precedent-setting hire for the school.

Jimmer Fredette, a Dave Rose-era player and 2011 Player of the Year: “I think it’s a great hire. He brings the NBA cachet and also the respect of some of the greatest players on earth. I think he can build the program and also groom talent to get to the NBA. In today’s game, kids want to win, feel valued, and make it to the next level. Kevin helps bring all of that to BYU.”

Doug Richards, a teammate of late Hall of Famer Kresimir Cosic in the Stan Watts and Glen Potter eras: “I missed the press conference but my thoughts are that he is young, smart, cool and I kind of wish he kept his beard. With his NBA experience, I would want him as my coach if I were hoping to play in the NBA. Plus, Danny Ainge endorsed him and that means a lot because I very much respect Danny’s basketball acumen.”

Gifford Nielsen, Provo High School McDonalds’ All-American, played for Glen Potter, currently on assignment for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: “Looking at it from my assignment in West Africa, I’m pleased with the professional way Kevin was hired. In the current crazy environment of collegiate athletics, from top to bottom, the university handled this with pure class. Kevin is one who sees the big picture and will develop young men who will win on and off the court in the years to come. It’s another exciting and profound day for BYU and the athletic program.”

Mark Durrant, who played for Roger Reid, now color analyst for KSL Radio game broadcasts: “Amazing! Who knows how it will turn out, but the quality of hire, the way BYU handled it, the speed they got it done, and the resources they were willing to commit, was a slam dunk by everyone involved. Totally breathed life back into the hope for the future of the program.”

Jonathan Tavernari, who played for Rose: “Very different type of personality than Mark Pope. He reminds me a lot of Dave Rose, in how he’s more on the low-profile side of things. From a basketball perspective, I mean, who in the country has a bigger pedigree in terms of NBA experience of working with superstars? As a recruit, how will you be able to say no to a guy who has turned down NBA head coaching gigs? He’s a family man that chose BYU for who we are and what we stand for, which he said is what he was after, so what a hire!”

Kevin Nixon, owner of the iconic half-court winning shot that beat UTEP in the WAC Tournament in Fort Collins: “He’s a humble guy and an incredible basketball mind. The fact that he has risen through the ranks of the NBA to be one of the top candidates for upcoming head coaching positions says a lot about his drive as a coach and his ‘like-ability’; I feel very strongly that BYU has found the perfect guy to lead our program into the future.”

Dalton Nixon, son of Kevin, a Rose-era player: “I’m excited to see this next chapter of BYU basketball under the direction of Kevin Young. He seems like a great guy, and based on his experience coaching, he’d certainly be someone I’d want to play for. Cougar Nation should be excited to rally behind the new staff as we continue to make our mark in the Big 12.”

Mekeli Wesley, a Steve Cleveland-era player who led the Cougars to their last conference championship in Las Vegas in 2001: “I am excited for a new chapter in BYU coaching and applaud the approach BYU is taking with an NBA hire. The program continues to make strides in building and adding to the rich history. In today’s competitive collegiate atmosphere this should be a great draw in adding top talent to the program. I’m excited for the future.”

Tyler Haws, BYU all-time leading scorer, via BYUtv: “Just really excited about the state of the program, where things are headed for the future of BYU basketball. I don’t want to speak for all of Cougar Nation, there’s been a lot of uncertainty and uneasiness the last few days. The changes happened so fast with Pope leaving and you heard a ton of names pop up as possibilities. To land Kevin Young is a huge get for BYU. I’m really excited about the different style and things that he brings to the table. After hearing him last night, everyone is excited. I couldn’t have picked a better scenario.”

Travis Hansen, All-MWC defensive player of the year, second-round pick Atlanta, Euro League star from Steve Cleveland era: “BYU basketball has taken a major step forward with the hire of Kevin Young. KY is an extremely competitive coach, he is an elite offensive mind and I’m excited to support him in any way.”

Kyle Collinsworth, Mr. Double-Double, former Dallas Maverick player who played for Rose. This is via ESPN 960 AM radio: “When you’re an assistant in the NBA, you’re the ultimate players’ coach. He’s going to push you, he’s going to be for you, and he’s going to push your development and goals. The NBA is a players’ league, assistant coaches have to learn to adapt and learn to find what makes players tick. They get really good at being able to motivate players in a good way that isn’t annoying. They figure out the best way to motivate guys and get them going.”

Elijah Bryant, former player under Rose, EuroLeague Turkey: “I’m excited! I have known KY since my Summer League days when he was my coach in Philly. I think he is the right pick to put BYU where it needs to be.”

BYU’s new men’s head basketball coach Kevin Young looks up at the Marriott Center as he walks in prior to the official announcement in Provo on Wednesday, April 17, 2024.