PROVO — The European hoop scene will be scoured by BYU’s basketball program this summer.
Lee Cummard, who spent seven years playing in Europe as a professional after his BYU career, was recently hired by head coach Dave Rose and in the ever-important recruiting month of July, Cummard received permission to take a trip to the Old World to recruit.
Cummard discussed this assignment during an interview on 1280 The Zone sports radio on Monday, while another Rose assistant Tim LaComb was the co-host with regular Pat Kinahan.
Cummard said BYU will not be jumping into European recruiting just for the sake of saying they are doing it. The plan is to find talent that will “move the needle” with a player who can impact the program.
“There are a lot of European players recruited in the United States and we see a lot of them in the WCC whom BYU regularly beats,” said Cummard.
So, recruiting there has to be more productive than just signing a guy.
Cummard said he hopes to reconnect with his European basketball sources when he travels to two tournaments for 18-and-under clubs in Latvia and Macedonia at the end of July.
“I played for coaches who are now coaching 18-and-under teams at these tournaments,” said Cummard.
Monday afternoon, I spoke with Cummard about his upcoming trip. He said he will go to Europe with specific player targets in mind. He also knows of teams he wants to see. The pre-research has been done already.
He also said speaking English in western Europe is very popular, as is American culture. “If you meet somebody under 45, you are almost assured that they speak English fluently.”
Also, grades and academics are a high priority by Europeans.
Cummard will attend tournaments in Los Angeles and Las Vegas before his trip overseas.
This is a good move by Rose and Cummard, to at least do the research.
It is difficult for BYU to recruit in foreign countries for myriad reasons, one of them being cultural challenges with the honor code.
Still, the Cougars have had success recruiting foreign players, including Hall of Famer Kresimir Cosic, a legend in former Yugoslavia. This past year during a celebration of his life, former teammate Doug Richards visited that area to help promote the celebration. He is considering going back as a missionary following work in the Utah Attorney General's office, according to family members.
Just as first-round NBA pick Rafael Araujo made a big impact in Mountain West Conference play for Steve Cleveland, Ladell Andersen got a lot of mileage out of Timo Saarelainen, a veteran Finnish national team player in the WAC.
After his BYU career ended, Cummard played professionally in France, Japan and Belgium. From 2012 through 2016, before taking a graduate assistant job with BYU, Cummard started for Okapi Aalstar in Belgium where that squad made the Belgium Cup semifinals four times.
Utah has enjoyed great success with foreign basketball players, the most recent being Jakob Poeltl from Austria, the overall No. 9 pick two years ago. He was part of 112 foreigners from 41 countries on NBA rosters when the 2016-17 season began.26 comments on this story
Other Ute notables include No. 1 2005 pick Andrew Bogut (Australia) and 2000 second-round pick Hanno Mottola (Finland). The WCC’s best players last season were Gonzaga’s Killian Tillie (France) and Saint Mary’s Jock Landale (Australia).
Cummard said he took the proposal of sending him to Europe this summer to review players at the tournaments to Rose, and he supported it.
Cummard’s experience as a European professional player had some, but not all, to do with the plan and it was not the reason he was elevated from grad assistant to full-time assistant coach.
Ciao, Mr. Cummard.