PROVO — One day after BYU coach Dave Rose announced his retirement, forward Yoeli Childs made it known that he’s leaving the program, too.
Childs announced via social media that he is forgoing his senior season to pursue a professional basketball career.
The announcement came as little surprise since he declared for the NBA draft last year without hiring an agent. This time, Childs noted via social media, he’s declaring for the 2019 NBA draft with the intent to hire an agent, ending his collegiate eligibility.
“These past three years have been amazing. When I think of BYU and what this school, program and people have done for me I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I’m grateful to the coaching staff for caring about me off the court as much as they did on the court," Childs wrote. "They believed in me no matter what. I am especially grateful for (former assistant coach) Tim LaComb for recruiting me and for the relationship we built on and off the court.
“I’m grateful for my teammates. I’ve been blessed to play this game of basketball with great players but better men. They are like brothers to me and we’ll be lifelong friends. I’m so grateful for all the BYU fans. The energy you support us with and the love that is felt everywhere I go is special.
“BYU truly has the greatest fans in the world. I hope you will continue to be a fan and show support for the rest of my basketball career. The time has come for a new chapter in my life. I will be declaring for this year’s NBA draft with intent to hire an agent. Thank you for everything Cougar Nation.”
After a strong freshman season, Childs made a big improvement as a sophomore, averaging 17.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game while hitting 54 percent of his shots from the floor and 64 percent from the free-throw line. He also blocked 63 shots.
Childs tested the NBA waters last spring and received valuable feedback. He wanted to improve his 3-point shooting, among other things.
As a junior, Childs averaged 21.2 points and 9.7 rebounds. After making 15 of 48 (31 percent) 3-pointers as a sophomore, he knocked down 32 of 99 (32 percent) 3-pointers as a junior.
One of his lasting impressions was the jaw-dropping dunk in the Cougars' victory over Utah last December at Vivint Arena. Childs took a baseline pass from TJ Haws, took one dribble, soared high in the air and hammered down an emphatic dunk over, and between, two Utah defenders.
It was a play that was ubiquitous on social media, even making SportsCenter’s Top Plays. He finished with 31 points on 13 of 16 shooting from the floor and 11 rebounds in the 74-59 win over the Utes.
Childs was a two-time first-team All-West Coast Conference honoree. In just three seasons, he finished with 1,609 points, good for No. 14 on BYU’s all-time scoring list behind No. 13 Ken Roberts (1,652) and ahead of Lee Cummard (1,569). Childs also finishes No. 5 on the career rebounding list with 882.
In the regular-season finale against San Diego, Childs recorded his 17th double-double of the season and 37th of his career. He is tied for third-most career double-doubles in school history with Kyle Collinsworth and fifth-most in a single season with John Fairchild (1963-64) and Eric Mika (2016-17).
Despite his individual successes, Childs never achieved his goal of playing in the NCAA Tournament.
Before the season tipped off in November, many figured this would be Childs’ last in a Cougar uniform. He told the Deseret News at that time what his mindset was as the campaign began.
“The mentality is to play this season like I’m trying to be a first-round pick in the NBA draft. That’s kind of a scary thing for fans to hear. It sounds like I’m thinking ahead of this year and I want to be done. But that’s not it at all. That’s the mentality you have to have to get to the level you want to play at," he said. "I want to play in the NBA more than just about anything. My teammates and coaches know that and want that for me.
"The most important thing right now is winning games. I want to win every single game. I want to be a competitor,” continued Childs, who married his wife, Megan, a Utah Valley University volleyball player, last summer. “I want to play for my teammates and play every single game like it’s my last. I want to go to the NCAA Tournament and have an unbelievable year.61 comments on this story
"I’m always going to do what’s best for my family and myself. That might be coming back for my senior year. We don’t know yet. I’ll have to see how the year goes and see how I play and see if we make the tournament and how far we go. All that stuff goes into it. I can’t say for sure if it’s my last year or not yet.”
Childs is the latest to leave the program after a 19-13 season. BYU announced last week that guards Jahshire Hardnett and Rylan Bergersen are transferring.
The Cougars have now lost a player, and their leading scorer, to the pro ranks in each of the last three seasons — Eric Mika in 2017, Elijah Bryant in 2018 and Childs this year.