BYU stood toe to toe with the big dogs in basketball, and won. The Cougars on Thursday secured a commitment from highly-regarded Purdue transfer Matt Haarms, who spurned Kentucky and Texas Tech for the opportunity to play out his final year of eligibility in Provo, Utah.
Haarms is a 7-foot-3 center from the Netherlands who made 40 career starts in his three seasons at Purdue. As a graduate transfer, he'll be eligible to play immediately next season for the Cougars.
It's a huge recruiting win for first year coach Mark Pope, who led BYU to a 24-8 record in his first season at the helm and has a wealth of momentum behind him entering his second season. Haarms should be a plug and play starter to help offset the loss of senior Yoeli Childs, who last season averaged 22.2 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. .
In 29 games last season, Haarms -- behind sophomore standout Trevion Williams on the depth chart at center -- made just 15 total starts, averaging 8.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. In a larger role, though, he should thrive as a shot-blocking extraordinaire on the back of the BYU defense: in his per-40 stats the last three seasons he averaged 4.1 blocks per game.
The offensive punch Haarms can provide for BYU will be a boon, too, and a welcome one with four of the five leading scorers from last season's team graduating. Haarms made steady improvement as a 3-point shooter at Purdue and has consistently been a reliable post scorer in college. Last season he shot 31.3% from 3-point range and 56.9% from 2-point range.
BYU began last season unranked before climbing as high as No. 14 in the AP poll.