Kyle Chilton | Posted: 30 May 2019 | Updated: 24 Dec 2020

Childs to return for senior season

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PROVO, Utah – Forward Yoeli Childs has announced he will return to BYU for his senior season.

A 6-foot-8 forward from South Jordan, Utah, Childs declared for the NBA Draft in March. Student-athletes had until 11:59 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 29, to formally withdraw from the NBA Draft to maintain their eligibility with the NCAA.

Childs announced his intentions to return via Twitter Wednesday evening. He met with the media Thursday morning to discuss his decision to return to BYU.

"I’m grateful for BYU and for all the support the fans here have given me, no matter what," Childs said. "I’m going to be able to be a pro for a really long time, but I only have one more year to do something special here. I owe it to this school, I owe it to my teammates, to come back and do something amazing. I just want to go all out and to make something special happen for BYU."

An All-West Coast First Team honoree as a junior in 2018-19, Childs led BYU and the WCC in scoring (21.2 ppg), rebounding (9.7 rpg) and double-doubles (17). He also added 32 3-point field goals and 33 blocked shots.

In 2018-19, the USBWA and NABC All-District performer posted 31 points in back-to-back-to-back games against in-state foes Weber State, Utah State and Utah, making him the first Cougar since Jimmer Fredette in 2010-11 to record 30-plus points in three-straight games.

For his career, Childs is 14th in career points (1,609), fifth in rebounds (882), third in blocks (142) and tied for third in double-doubles (37) at BYU. He owns career averages of 16.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.4 blocks.

"This team is made of some extraordinary individuals and he’s certainly one of them," BYU coach Mark Pope said. "I think one the things people can be really excited about is the passion he has for this place, for this university, for these fans and for the mission of this school. He wants to come back and give it another shot at trying to do something amazing that can be put into history books here and how can you not get behind that?"

With the return of Childs for his senior season, BYU returns more than 75 percent of its production from the 2018-19 squad in almost every major statistical category.

Category 2018-19 Returning Percentage
Points 2,527 2,070 81.9
Rebounds 1,118 849 75.9
Assists 482 376 78.0
Blocks 107 100 93.5
Steals 203 144 70.9
Minutes 6,475 4,819 74.4
Field Goals Made 878 720 82.0
3-Point Field Goals 226 185 81.9
Free-Throws Made 545 445 81.7

In addition to the returning players for the 2018-19 BYU roster, the Cougars add the 2018-19 Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year in Jake Toolson and Jesse Wade, Utah’s 2015 Deseret News Mr. Basketball. Wade sat out at BYU last season due to NCAA transfer rules after playing his freshman season in Gonzaga in 2017-18.

More from Childs
This process has been unbelievable and first off I just want to say that I’m grateful to everyone that’s helped me with this process. I’m grateful to God and I’m grateful to be part of this church where I can go to the temple and pray and do all the right things to make a good decision. I’m thankful for my wife and I’m thankful for everything she does for me. She’s been right beside me throughout this whole process and I’m thankful for the coaching staff that we have here and for the last coaching staff we had here, they did amazing things for me. I’m grateful for BYU and for all the support the fans here have given me, no matter what. I’m going to be able to be a pro for a really long time, but I only have one more year to do something special here. I owe it to this school, I owe it to my teammates, to come back and do something amazing. I just want to go all out and to make something special happen for BYU.

What was the final factor in your decision to come back to BYU?
The final factor was that the opportunities that I had will still be there and I just wanted to do something special here. I wanted to make a run with these guys and I want to come back and get my degree. Those things together were huge for me. I just wanted to come back and give it one last swing.

How tempting were the offers overseas?
I had some overseas opportunities, for what some people would consider a significant amount of money, but if I played this game just for money, then I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now. Obviously [money] is important and it’s important to take care of your family, but I love this game and I love a lot of things about this game, and money is definitely not at the top of that list.

How much did you talk to Coach Pope and how much did he convince you to stay?
Too many conversations with Mark Pope. BYU is very lucky to have Coach Pope. The way he recruited me and the conversations we had, the vision he has for this place is special and I think recruits coming up are going to see that and it’s going to be big for BYU.

What feedback did you get from the professional scouts?
I think the scouts saw that I got a lot better at some of the things they wanted me to get better at. I think there were a couple other things that I didn’t get better at to get me ready for that level. But I’m going to come back this year and make it a mission to become better at those things. One of those things is on the defensive end. For this team this year, the ultimate goal is to make it to the tournament and make a run. My ultimate individual goal is to be the defensive player of the year in this conference and I think that is very possible and that’s what I have my individual sights set on.  
BYU coach Mark Pope on Childs

How happy are you with the news that Yoeli is coming back?
I’m really happy. I’m so excited for Yoeli. When you go through these processes, for all these young men, this journey is a process of self-discovery about what you care about, about what you want and what’s most important to you and he’s been really generous with us. We spent countless hours having conversations in the office and workouts on the floor and all of that was just a little piece of him being able to discover, through this process, what he cares about most right now. And he said it better than anybody could, that he knows he only gets one shot at this and that he can do something special with these teammates. The things that kept coming back was how much he loves this university. He said it way better than I could. We are so excited to have him be a part of this team and for all of us to take a giant shot at this.

When did you find out that Yoeli was officially coming back?
I found out officially from Yoeli yesterday at about 4 or 5 o clock. He’s been incredibly generous with his time. We’ve gotten to know each other really, really well over the last couple of weeks. And more importantly, what Yoeli said today is that he’s got to know himself, what he really cares about. You know when we go through decision making processes which we do as athletes a lot. It really does really give you the chance to feel the pressure. I don’t think Yoeli slept for four or five days. He’s been feeling the pressure and the weight of that decision. But it gives you a chance to see inside yourself and see what you really care about. The way he verbalized that today was almost poetic, you can tell it’s from his heart. And so, I found out yesterday afternoon and its been quick quick moving since then.

He’s a great player and you always want great players but getting to get hands on him on the court, it blew my mind and got me so excited because he showed me things on the court in the last week that I haven’t seen. And I haven’t had the time to follow BYU really really closely, but I hadn’t seen from him and he’s got a bunch of parts of his game that are just at his fingertips, that are not out of reach. And I think he has a real commitment to developing right now and I think we’re all excited to see what he can do.

Were you surprised at all by his decision?
No. Just because the trajectory of things over the last couple weeks. As we dug in, he was willing to let us see a little bit inside him pretty early, and I think in his heart he is a big picture. That he can accomplish things, and that this team can accomplish really special things and when you see that in somebody, I tend to think that if that’s really in his heart, there’s a good chance he’s going to want to come back and do this with these guys. He loves his teammates. It’s been really fun to watch how the team has been involved in this process. He actually talked to a couple guys on the team right before he talked to me yesterday. I think that we’ve thought that this was a possibility for a while and it’s just been fun to be here and see how energized he’s been the last 12 hours, having this decision behind him.

How much better does he make your team?
He’s a really good player and I believe that he’s barely scratched the surface which is crazy to say because he’s so good, but I think his upside is huge. I think there are parts of his game that he hasn’t really really been able to dedicate himself to yet and when he does, I think he can re-write the story about who he is as a basketball player this season. I believe that, I really do. And he’s got to focus on doing that, and it’s going to be really exciting to watch. 

His ultimate goal is the NBA, are you going to help him with to be able to play at the next level?
I could help him with being the worst player in the NBA and I don’t think that’s what he’s trying to do, he wants to be better than that. But he has a skill set that is a little bit unique and the chance to really expand and so the one thing I do know is that I know what teams care about so we will spend a lot of time on that. The beautiful thing for Yoeli right now is the pursuit of his professional career is exactly in harmony with what is going to make this team special. That’s what’s beautiful about this, I mean how often do you have a guy as committed as he is. Sit there and say ‘I want to be the Defensive Player of the Year’ and understand that that is really going to change the trajectory of his career and that is also going to be a foundation of what this team does. When you get those two things I harmony, it’s really special.”

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