UVU men’s basketball has an updated roster for the new season, with players ready to win a championship. TJ Washington, Isaiah White and Baylee Steele are recent recruits to Utah Valley, and they already have big goals for the team.
Baylee Steele is a 6’ 11” transfer from Eastern Michigan University. He is currently undecided on a degree, but enjoys the business and financial fields. Steele hopes to obtain a bachelor’s degree, then go on to receive a master’s degree, or a certificate in financial planning or small entrepreneurship.
Steele began his collegiate basketball career at a junior college before transferring to Division I. “I expected the level of competition would be a lot higher,” he says. “I didn’t really see that at Eastern, and right away I saw that here.” More than the competitive factor, Steele felt welcomed by the coaching staff and his team members. “The coaching staff is there for you, and they really care about you. The school is amazing because we have support from everyone. At Eastern Michigan, we didn’t really have a lot of support from the school. I feel like I fit in much better here. We are a very tight-knit team.”
Along with big scholastic dreams, Steele wants to secure a basketball championship. “If we don’t make the tournament, it’s not necessarily a failure, we just didn’t get what we could have out of the team. I know we have the talent, and the ultimate goal is to win. We want to get an upset as the ‘Cinderella’ team.”
Another recruit joining UVU’s roster is Isaiah White, a 6’ 7” transfer from Salt Lake Community College. Due to restrictions in high school, White did not qualify to play D1 basketball. However, that didn’t stop him from playing collegiate ball. SLCC had won a championship the previous year, and White felt like it would be a good fit.
Soon after White’s time at SLCC, he began receiving offers from other schools. He had different conversations with many other coaches, but one really resonated with him. “Coach Pope and the coaching staff is the reason I came to UVU. Something about Pope and the staff felt right.”
White is also very excited about the bond he has with his teammates. “It feels like it’s fake. I have never been part of a team where everyone is cool like this. We are real with each other on and off the court. The coaches keep it real with me and my family as well.”
A third recruit transferring from Coffeyville Community College is TJ Washington. Similar to White, Washington spent time at a junior college due to ACT scoring. During his term there, he learned a lot. Washington matured and was able to get a feel for what collegiate basketball was really about. “The coaching staff brought me here. I also want to make the tournament, and this is the best opportunity. Getting to the NCAA tournament is the ultimate goal.
The new recruitment list also includes Connor MacDougall, Wyatt Lowell and Austin Denham, who are eligible to play this year. Brandon Averette, Ege Havsa and Casdon Jardine will sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules.