Anyone who has followed Utah Valley athletics this season knows that the men’s basketball team has a completely new look. The departure of head coach Mark Pope to Brigham Young University and the subsequent transfers of three players that followed him — as well as graduated seniors and other transfers — left many open positions on the roster.
Former WAC Player of the Year Jake Toolson, former WAC Freshman of the Year Wyatt Lowell and Richard Harward all followed Pope to the Y. But again, that’s already known. What might not be known is how they are doing in their new home.
Lowell and Harward are ineligible to play this season due to NCAA transfer rules. For now, they practice and cheer their teammates on until the time they can play.
Toolson, on the other hand, is eligible to play as a grad-transfer. He has played all 18 games so far this season for the Cougars and averages 14.9 points per game. To go along with the impressive points Toolson is putting up, he averages 46.6% from the field, 44.2% from deep and 87.5% from the stripe.
In the Cougars overtime loss to the University of Utah, Toolson tied his career-high in points scored at 27, which he originally recorded in a 2017 game against Idaho State.
A name that some might not remember is Baylee Steele. After Pope and the others left, Steele transferred to Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was a major presence in the paint for the Wolverines on both ends of the floor as one of their tallest players on the roster.
Steele had one eligible year with the Wolverines where he averaged 9.5 points per game, playing in 35 games. He averaged 7.2 rebounds per game, with a total of 252 and a total of 15 blocks on the season. In the 16 games the Dukes have played so far this season, Steele has played and scored in each of them. He has had an impressive season, including a season-high 20 point game while only averaging 23 minutes a game.
A few more names that might not ring many bells are Drew Cotton and Cache Fields. Both players were freshmen last season and neither saw many minutes. Fields decided to take a leave of absence to serve an LDS mission in Boise, Idaho. Cotton transferred to the New Mexico Military Institute where he is likely getting the playing time he was looking for.
The Broncos have played 16 games thus far, earning a record of 9-7, and Cotton has helped in 15 of those games. Through those 15 games, he is averaging 15.1 minutes per game and scoring 9.9 points per game. He has a season-high 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting and 3-of-7 from deep in that season-high game. As a sophomore, he has a bright basketball future ahead of him if he chooses to stay a Bronco.
Three Wolverines graduated last season, Ben Nakwaasah, Hayden Schenck and Conner Toolson. Neither Nakwaasah or Schenck pursued a professional career after graduation, while Toolson did.
The 2019 NBA G League Draft announced a familiar name to Utah County. Toolson was selected as the 17th pick of the third round of the draft by the Salt Lake City Stars — an affiliate to the Utah Jazz. Just five days later, the Stars announced Toolson would no longer be a part of the team, as he was waived from the roster. As of now he is still looking for an opportunity to continue his basketball career.
To be Continued
Keep an eye out for more information on your favorite, and not-so-favorite UVU athletic alumni. We will continue to look for what players from every UVU sport are up to now, whether it be post graduation, or simply transferring to another college.
Photo by UVU Review