PROVO — In Matt Carlino’s first game as a BYU Cougar, after transferring from UCLA, he reminded some of a left-handed Jimmer Fredette.
Carlino scored 21 points in his debut as the Cougars dropped a heartbreaker to No. 6-ranked Baylor in front of a sellout crowd at the Marriott Center in December 2011.
After three mercurial seasons in Provo, Carlino has decided to play his final year of college basketball elsewhere.
Coach Dave Rose announced Tuesday afternoon that Carlino will transfer for his senior season after he graduates from BYU in June with a bachelor’s degree in recreation management and youth leadership.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity Coach Rose and his staff have given me,” Carlino said in a statement. “I’m also grateful for my teammates, professors and advisors for making my time at BYU such a great experience and for helping me grow so much as a person. Thank you to the fans that have given me so much support. I feel very blessed that I was able to represent BYU.”
As per NCAA rules, student-athletes that have graduated are eligible to transfer and play immediately without sitting out for a season.
Carlino’s departure apparently resolves a scholarship crunch in the program. Before Tuesday, the Cougars had 13 scholarships and 14 projected players on the roster.
Certainly, BYU will miss Carlino’s experience and talent.
He finishes his BYU career among the top 10 in school history in three categories. He's No. 7 in career assists (427), No. 6 in steals (161) and No. 6 in 3-pointers (157). Carlino is No. 27 in points (1,201).
“We’re really grateful for Matt’s contribution to the success of our program over the last three years,” Rose said in a statement. “We wish Matt and his family the very best in their future endeavors. Matt was a great teammate and will be missed by the coaching staff and players.”
In early January, as the Cougars were fighting through a four-game losing streak, Carlino’s role changed. He went from starter to sixth man. Coming off the bench was a role that he seemed to embrace.
“That was something none of us really expected going into the year. It turned out to be really good for our team,” Rose told the Deseret News Monday before he knew of Carlino’s decision to transfer. “Matt embraced it to the point that he played better. His minutes were about the same, maybe dropped a little bit. But his offensive numbers were so much better, so much more efficient.”
Carlino averaged a career-best 13.7 points per game as a junior. He averaged 4.3 assists and 1.7 steals. Carlino was named All-WCC honorable mention.
In what turned out to be his final game as a Cougar, Carlino started in BYU's NCAA tournament loss last month to Oregon in place of injured guard Kyle Collinsworth.
With Carlino’s departure, the Cougars have seven guards projected to be on the 2014-15 roster — Collinsworth, Tyler Haws, Skyler Halford, Anson Winder, Frank Bartley IV, Chase Fischer and Jordan Chatman.
Collinsworth is recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL a few weeks ago, and BYU is hoping he will be ready for the start of the season. Chatman, who returned home from his LDS mission in Taiwan last weekend, will be a freshman with four years of eligibility.