PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Yoeli Childs is coming back to BYU.
In a a move that surprised a lot of people, Childs announced that he has taken his name out of the NBA Draft and will return to the Cougars for his senior season.
“I’m going to be able to be a pro for a really long time,” Childs said at a press conference Thursday. “But I only have one more year to do something really special here. I owe it to this school, I owe it to these guy over here, my teammates, to come back and do something amazing.”
Childs declared for the NBA Draft for a second straight year the day after Dave Rose retired after 14 years as the head coach, but after working out for several NBA teams, had a change of heart.
Childs was not invited to the NBA Draft Combine.
He said he had some offers to play overseas, but decided it was best to return to BYU, where he needs to work on his defense and outside shooting to succeed at the next level.
“For sure I had some overseas opportunities for what some people would consider a significant amount of money,” Childs said. “But if I played this game just for money, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Obviously, it’s important to take care of your family, but I love this game. I love a lot of things about this game, and money is not at the top of the list.”
After talking with new BYU head coach Mark Pope, Childs decided to return to the Cougars to try to help them get back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four years.
Childs wasn’t so much recruited by Pope as he was stalked.
“We’ve basically have been tied at the hip for the last two weeks because I was stalking him everywhere.” Pope said. “It’s just fun to see how energized he has been the last 12 hours having this decision behind him.”
So exactly how many conversations did he have with Mark Pope?
“Too many conversations with Mark Pope, too many,” Childs said with a laugh. “They bring a belief that something special can happen. That feeling when BYU was on top a couple years back when they were making those tournament runs and there was Jimmermania. There was just magic and excitement here in Provo. I want to bring something like that back here.”
A 2-time first team All-West Coast Conference forward, Childs is coming off a career-best season in which he averaged 21.2 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. Childs had 17 double-doubles, and eclipsed the 30-point mark three times.
Childs declared for the 2018 NBA Draft, but returned to BYU needing to improve his defense and 3-point shooting. This past season, Childs shot a career-best 32 percent from beyond the arc.
Now teaming up with T.J. Haws, Nick Emery, Zac Seljaas and Utah Valley transfer Jake Toolson and Gonzaga transfer Jesse Wade, BYU should have its best team in several years.
“For this team, obviously the ultimate goal is to make the tournament and make a run,” Childs said. “I’ve bought into that something special is going to happen this year.”