Reports dropped today that Caleb Lohner and Gideon George will be entering the transfer portal, becoming the latest of four former Cougars to seek greener pastures this offseason. Jake Hatch of 1280 the Zone was the report the news. This news is obviously not ideal, especially coming on the heels of Chris Burgess leaving the program, but it is not the end world.
Let’s start with why the news was concerning. It’s not because BYU is losing two irreplaceable stars. I love Lohner and George as much as anyone. They both have NBA level size and athleticism, but the production simply hasn’t been there. George and Lohner averaged a combined 15/11/2 on 43% shooting, 30% from three, and 62% from the line. Like it or not, a team built around that kind of production is not going to cut it in the WCC let alone the BIG XII. The issue, then, is not who is transferring, but why.
This is where the water starts getting a little murkier. Some fans understandably fear that the outflow of transfers the past two seasons are a signal that Pope has lost the locker room, and that may absolutely be the case. But the unspoken truth of decommits and transfers is that more often than not, it’s the school that breaks up with the player and not the other way around. George and Lohner are the first two transfers of the Pope tenure that I would argue BYU really wanted to have back. Even so, losing them is not a program killer.
Regardless of the message it sends about the locker room, it was time for a change in Provo. The roster as constructed was not going to take BYU to where they wanted to go next season. We all knew that in February, so why be surprised about roster changes in April?
The time for panic has not come for the boys in blue just yet. That time may come if we start seeing players like Colin Chandler or Dallin Hall back out of their national letters of intent, but for now, the current departures can be a blessing if Mark Pope is who we think he is.
On the bright side, the future core of the program is still committed. As long as players like Traore, Atiki, Hall, and Chandler are in the pipeline, the future remains bright. This year was always going to be about the development of the guys coming in, and the current departures only provide more opportunities for that development.
This is the first time BYU has faced any real adversity since Pope took the helm, but adversity was going to happen at some point. The fact that it took three years is more a testament to Pope’s competence than his failure. Let’s give him an offseason to recruit and a season to develop before we start making any decisions about where the program is headed. I think Pope has at least earned that much.