PROVO, Utah – When Matt Haarms made it official that he was entering the NBA draft process after one year at BYU, it didn’t come as a complete surprise.
The 7-foot-3, 250-pound Haarms had always made it clear throughout the 2020-21 season that this would be his year to showcase his talents and move onto a professional career.
But after BYU experienced an abrupt exit in the NCAA Tournament to Final Four participant UCLA in the first round, Haarms wanted to reexamine his decision. Especially with head coach Mark Pope making recruiting pitches to bring him back.
Last week, Haarms’ decision fell into place, and he knew he would move on to his professional career.
Landing at a school that would “showcase an NBA-ready skill set” was a big reason Haarms came to BYU over the likes of Kentucky and Texas Tech after three years at Purdue. Now entering the professional waters, Haarms is happy with what took place this past season.
How BYU prepared Matt Haarms for a pro career
“I feel really good about it. That’s kind of what it came down to, you know. I feel like the coaches did a great job with me, just helping me and my confidence, you know the way I approach the game, my work ethic, I feel like they really helped me,” said Haarms to KSL Sports.
“And then, you know, going through the season with so many ups and downs in such a big year, I kind of feel like I can take on anything right now. You know, if I can get through a college season with all these crazy regulations, I feel I can get through a normal NBA or anywhere pro season. So I’m really proud of the year I spent here.”
In his one season at BYU, Haarms earned WCC Defensive Player of the Year showing his elite rim protection skills averaging two blocks per game. Haarms finished with averages of 11.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game in 24 starts for the Cougars.
The next task for Haarms now is to find an agent as he continues down a professional career path.
“I’m currently talking to a few of them. It’s a process you have to go through to figure out where I’m going to be for the summer, my pre-draft preparation, all that kind of stuff. So that’s the process I’m currently really engaged in. Hoping to make a decision on that soon. That’s kind of like the next big step.”
Haarms knows BYU basketball has better days ahead
Without Haarms, BYU loses a top-notch shot blocker and a leader in the locker room, who was instrumental in helping BYU get back to its first NCAA Tournament since 2015 with a single-digit seed. But Haarms knows the future of Cougar hoops is in good hands under head coach Mark Pope.
“I know that I’m going to be overshadowed. That’s actually what I want. I know I’m going to be only the beginning,” said Haarms. “This year’s team, I know we’re going to be overshadowed by even greater teams under Mark Pope at BYU. And I’m completely fine with that.
“I want people to occasionally look back and say, ‘Hey, you know that Matt Haarms guy, he was one of the guys that started that process of getting back to the NCAA Tournament.’ …But you know, this is only the beginning for BYU basketball. I’m really proud to have been a part of kind of the Renaissance.”
Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.