Ranking the best BYU basketball transfers in the WCC era

Matt Haarms, Brandon Averette and Alex Barcello are among the top transfers in BYU's WCC era. Photo Courtesy of BYU Athletics and BYU Photo.


Since its advent in 2018, the transfer portal has turned the college basketball world on its head. Over a thousand players have entered the portal since the end of the 2021-22 regular season, and there could be even more in the coming days and weeks.

Thus far, BYU has lost three players to the Portal in walk-on Jeremy DowDell, Nate Hansen and Hunter Erickson, but all signs point to more coming down the road. The Cougars will probably bring in a few players, and have targeted JUCO product Sean East and former four-star American Fork product Isaac Johnson, an Oregon transfer.

In the WCC era, BYU has brought in a plethora of transfers that have come in and made an impact in their time in Provo. That group includes some all-time BYU greats like Elijah Bryant, Jake Toolson and Matt Carlino, as well as some names BYU fans have probably forgotten, like Stephen Rogers, Jahshire Hardnett and Lamont Morgan Jr. We sat down and created a power ranking of the top 10 transfers since joining the WCC in 2011. 


No. 10: Skyler Halford, SG, Salt Lake Community College

Nathan: Skyler was streaky during his time at BYU, but was always a high-energy guy coming off the bench for the Cougars, known for his trademark full-court defense. Halford scored in double-figures 28 times in his two seasons in Provo. Halford has gone on to get a doctorate in physical therapy and works as a basketball skills trainer.

Brice: Halford was a hometown product, playing his prep basketball at Timpanogos High in Orem before taking the JUCO route via Salt Lake Community College. While at SLCC, Halford was named an NJCAA All-America first-team honoree as a sophomore as well as Region 18 MVP and Scenic West Athletic Conference Player of the Year. At BYU, Halford played in 69 games and scored over 500 points including his career-high 29 points against San Diego on Jan. 4, 2014. 


No. 9: Te’Jon Lucas, G, Milwaukee/Illinois

Nathan: The Milwaukee native quickly endeared himself to Cougar Nation, helping lead BYU to a trio of big wins over San Diego State, Oregon and Utah early in the season. Lucas was a fan favorite, with BYU fans rallying behind his “Find Your Purpose” campaign. While Lucas’ time in Provo wasn’t as successful as expected on the team level, he’ll be remembered for being part of the most diverse starting five in BYU history. 

Brice: Lucas had a solid season at BYU and not many people seemed to notice due to the overall performance of the team. Lucas had a season-high 18 points in back-to-back games against Texas Southern and Utah early in the season. The senior from Milwaukee was told by Pope before he transferred to BYU that he would be taking on a lesser role than what he had been used to at Milwaukee as far as volume of shots goes, but Lucas embraced his new role at BYU in dishing out over 150 assists in his single season for the Cougars. 


No. 8: Kyle Davis, PF, Utah State

Nathan: All season we were comparing the trajectories of Yoeli Childs and Fousseyni Traore’s freshman seasons, and both had breakout years because of injuries by the bigs in front of them. Davis had a stellar 2015-16 season after transferring from Utah State, but his senior year in 2016-17 was cut short after appearing in just 10 games, opening the door for Childs to get more minutes. Davis scored in double figures in 28 out of 37 games in 2015-16, including a career-high 23 points against Harvard in the Diamond Head Classic.

Brice: Davis helped the Cougars in 47 games over his career at BYU. The 2015-16 season was his most productive, scoring over 400 points and pulling in over 270 rebounds. Davis could have moved up the list if it weren’t for injuries that held him back. 


No. 7: Brandon Averette, PG, Utah Valley/Oklahoma State

Nathan: Most expected the 2020-21 season to be a rebuilding year for Mark Pope and his staff, but the Cougars defied the odds and made the NCAA tournament. One of the leaders on that team was Averette, who had previous stops at UVU and Oklahoma State. Averette averaged 12.8 PPG, 2.1 RPG, and 3.0 APG in his one year in Provo and dropped a career-high 30 points against Texas Southern.

Brice: Averette transferred from UVU to BYU to play his final season as a Cougar. In his time at BYU he scored a career-high 30 points and had 6 3-pointers against Texas Southern in the 2020-21 season. Averette was also a big reason why the Cougars were able to make the NCAA Tournament in the 2020-21 season finishing the season with nine-straight games where he scored 10 or more points for BYU. 


No. 6: Matt Haarms, C, Purdue

Nathan: In terms of name value alone, Haarms was the biggest transfer splash in the WCC era. BYU certainly missed Haarms’ size in the interior this season, and he never got to truly take in the full Marriott Center experience due to COVID-19. Haarms helped lead BYU to an NCAA Tournament berth that prior to the season seemed like a longshot. 

Brice: Matt Haarms was a high three-star prospect when he signed with Purdue in 2016. When he entered the transfer portal Pope immediately went after Haarms, who was considered one of the top transfer prospects in the country. The 7-foot-2, 220-pound center was an elite force in the paint amassing nearly 50 blocks in the 2020-21 season and earning WCC Defensive Player of The Year honors. 


No. 5: Jake Toolson, SF, Utah Valley*

Nathan: Although Jake started his career at BYU and eventually transferred down the road to UVU, his return to Provo with Mark Pope in 2019-20 brought one of the most exciting seasons in BYU basketball history. 

Jake averaged 15.2 PPG that season, including a blazing 47% from three. The Gilbert, Arizona native was also instrumental in BYU’s upset victory over Gonzaga on Senior Night, dropping 17 points on five triples. Jake is currently playing overseas, most recently in Germany.

Brice: Toolson signed with Dave Rose and BYU out of Highland High School, where he scored over 2,000 career points, but later transferred to UVU and played under Mark Pope. After receiving an AP All-America Honorable Mention in 2018-19 and being named the 2018-19 Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year, Toolson followed Pope back to BYU. 

In his time as a Cougar, Toolson played in 68 games, scored over 500 points and led the program to a historic win over Gonzaga on Feb. 22, 2020. Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic stole a tournament run away from the top three-point shooting team in the nation. 


No. 4: Matt Carlino, PG, UCLA 

Nathan: Matt Carlino has a complicated legacy among BYU fans, but he was one of the more reliable scorers during his time in Provo. There was an unfair expectation from some BYU fans placed on Matt that he was the heir apparent to Jimmermania (see below), but a player like James T. Fredette comes once in a generation, maybe even once in a lifetime. Those expectations and a disconnect with the coaching staff led to his departure to Marquette for his final year of eligibility. 

BYU fans could see more of Carlino once the Cougars move to the Big 12 — Matt is currently a graduate assistant on the TCU men’s basketball staff after finishing his playing career overseas. 

Brice: The UCLA transfer quickly received the nickname “Limmer”  (Left-handed Jimmer) for his elite three-point shooting coupled with his southpaw abilities that he put on display from 2012 to 2014 for the Cougars. Carlino’s career-high eight 3-pointers came against Portland on Feb. 22, 2014 en route to a 30 point game that matched his previous high of 30 points against USF in the 2011-12 season. 


No. 3: Chase Fischer, SG, Wake Forest

Nathan: Fischer is one of the best sharpshooters to ever come through the Marriott Center. Despite just playing two seasons for the Cougars, Chase ranks fifth all-time in career three-pointers made. He’s also the only player besides Jimmer Fredette to make 100 triples in a single season and he did it twice.

Brice: Fischer saw time in 62 games and started six times in his time at Wake Forest before joining Dave Rose and Co. for the 2013-2016 seasons. Fischer was a high volume scorer, recording a 41-point game against New Mexico in 2015 as well as setting a record for most three-point shots made in a game at BYU with 10 versus Chaminade. In his career Fischer scored 1,121 points for the Cougars and finds himself in the top three of the best transfers in BYU’s WCC era. 


No. 2: Elijah Bryant, SF, Elon

Nathan: If Elijah Bryant had stayed for his senior season at BYU, he may have moved himself up to No. 1 on this list. The 2018-19 season was turbulent to say the least, and Bryant’s departure left an 18-point hole that BYU struggled to fill for most of the year. Bryant has gone on to have a great professional career, most recently winning the NBA championship last year with the Milwaukee Bucks. 

Brice: Before Bryant became the leader of the 2017-18 squad, he was busy turning heads at Elon. Named the Colonial Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year and earned third-team All-CAA, Bryant earned CAA Rookie of the Week honors six times. In his tenure with the Cougars, he scored over 890 points which included a 39 point career high against Portland as well as pulling down nearly 300 rebounds in his time at BYU. 


No. 1: Alex Barcello, PG, Arizona

Nathan: Recency bias might be at play here, but AB goes down as the best transfer of the WCC era in my book. Barcello was instrumental in two* NCAA tournament teams (counting 2019-20, we all know BYU was a lock for the tourney) and practically willed this past season’s team to most of their victories down the stretch. Barcello’s stats speak for themselves, going down as arguably the best three-point shooter in school history. Replacing Alex will be a tall task for Mark Pope and his staff.

Brice: Barcello was a four-star recruit coming out of high school in 2016. After signing with Arizona, Barcello spent just one season in Tucson before deciding to transfer. Had BYU signed Barcello out of high school, he would have been right up there with Eric Mika and Collin Chandler for the highest-rated recruits in BYU history. 

Barcello has been an outstanding shooter in his time at BYU, so much so that he received high praise from ESPN’s Jay Bilas on College Gameday earlier this year when he stated that “Alex Barcello is the best shooter in the country.” 

In the 2020-21 season Barcello shot 52% from the field and 47% from beyond the arc. Couple that with multiple clutch shots to seal the win for BYU down the stretch, like the one at Vivint Arena against in-state foe Utah State to put the Cougars up for good, and you have the makings for the best transfer in BYU history.

As BYU gets deeper into the offseason, BYU will surely add a few more players from the transfer portal. Do you agree with our list? Let us know in the comments below.

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