PROVO — Yoeli Childs could be meeting with financial planners and luxury car salesmen. He could be picking out wainscoting styles for a mansion with a view somewhere. The 21-year-old could be touring a scenic city on the other side of the world, experiencing the new culture and cuisine of his new basketball home.
He could be a professional basketball player right now.
Though the NBA isn't an immediate option for the talented power forward from Bingham High, Childs had offers to begin earning a hefty pile of money to play hoops after announcing that he'd forego his senior season at BYU to pursue his pro career.
"I had some overseas opportunities with what some people would consider a significant amount of money," he admitted Thursday.
Instead, Childs had a change of heart after being heavily recruited to return for his senior season by new BYU coach Mark Pope, weighing the pros and cons with his wife, praying for guidance, attending the temple for clarity, chatting with current and former Cougar players and looking deep inside his soul.
That can wait, man.
One more year, baby.
After the news made the rounds Wednesday night following his announcement tweet, Childs held a press conference Thursday morning to discuss why he's coming back for his senior season in Provo instead of taking the money and running off to Europe or Asia.
"I’m going to be able to be a pro for a really long time, but I only have one more year to do something special here," Childs said. "I owe it to this school. I owe it to these guys over here, my teammates, to come back and do something amazing. I just want to go all out and make something special happen for BYU."
Three items stand out among the things Childs hopes to accomplish as a senior:
1. He wants to make an NCAA Tournament run with his BYU boys, including newcomer Jake Toolson, while bringing the "magic" back to the campus and community.
"What sticks with me when it comes to that magic is that feeling when BYU is on top," he said. "A couple years back when they’re making those tournament runs, Jimmermania and all those things, there’s magic and excitement in Provo. I want to bring something like that back here this year."
2. He wants to earn WCC Defensive Player of the Year honors, which coincides with the area of his game that pro scouts say he still needs the most work on.
"For this team this year, obviously the ultimate goal is to make the tournament and make a run," he said. "My ultimate individual goal is going to be defensive player of the year in this conference. I think that’s very possible. That’s what I have my individual sights set on."
3. He wants to enjoy another season with his college friends and earn his degree.
"Those things together were huge for me," he added, "and I just wanted to come back and give it one last swing."
Pope jokingly downplayed the announcement — "I didn't really care. Come back, don't come back," he said, grinning — but Childs' new coach couldn't hide his excitement.
"He's a great player," Pope said. "You always want great players."
Pope loves that this grueling process has helped Childs define what's most important to him.
"I don’t think Yoeli slept for four or five days," Pope said. "He’s been feeling the weight of the pressure of this decision. It allows you to see inside yourself and see what you really care about. The way he verbalized that today was almost poetic, and you can tell it’s from his heart."
Childs spoke from his big heart before reporters got a chance to ask questions at the press conference, which included the new coaching staff, BYU basketball players and other dignitaries inside of the BYU Student Athlete Center.
"This process has been unbelievable," Childs said. "First off, I just want to say I’m grateful to everyone that’s helped me with this process. I’m grateful to God. I’m grateful to be a part of (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) where I can go to the temple and pray and do all the right things to make a good decision.
"I'm thankful for my wife, thankful for everything she does for me. She’s been right beside me throughout this whole process. I’m thankful for the coaching staff here, the previous coaching staff here (Dave Rose & Co.). They did amazing things for me. I’m grateful for BYU and for all the support the fans have given me no matter what."
Childs knows he'll have more opportunities to make money — a lot of money — in the future. He's also thankful for that. But it's not what is most important to him right now.51 comments on this story
BYU's program can be thankful for that. Childs, a first-team All-WCC player, averaged 21.2 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists, one block and one steal as a junior. The 6-foot-8, 225-pounder worked out for some NBA teams, but his pro career was going to begin overseas.
"If I played this game just for money, I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now," Childs said. "Obviously, that’s important and it’s important to take care of your family, but I love this game. I love a lot of things about this game and money is definitely not at the top of that list."