The long road to BYU: Why Caleb Lohner ultimately chose the Cougars over Utah

Wasatch Academy’s Caleb Lohner #41 in action against Oak Hill in a Boys Quarterfinal game at the Geico High School Basketball Nationals in the Queens borough of New York on Thursday, April 4, 2019. | Gregory Payan, AP

Mark Pope’s initial success led him to make the difficult decision to ask out of his obligation to Utah

OREM — Making a signing decision is hard enough for top prospective college athletes in and of itself, although not nearly as tough as going back on that decision in lieu of another.

But for BYU basketball’s most recent addition, Caleb Lohner, reneging on his signing for one that was right for him made all of it worthwhile.

“There’s a lot of excitement around the program and I just can’t wait. I know BYU has great fans and I know the atmosphere is incredible down there. It’s just the perfect situation for me and I’m happy I was able to get to this situation, even though it wasn’t easy. I just can’t wait to get going.” — Caleb Lohner

Lohner is a 6-foot-9 forward prospect who encountered a lot of recruiting attention from his sophomore high school season on, before apparently resting on Utah for his services back in November. It was an unexpected development for the highly-rated Wasatch Academy product, and a move Lohner reconsidered later, ultimately asking for a release from his letter of intent and then signing with BYU.

“It was a hard conversation,” Lohner said of informing Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak and Utah Athletic Director Mark Harlan of his hope to be released from his signing obligation.

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In a somewhat unanticipated development, Utah granted Lohner his wish, with the highly-touted prospect announcing his signing with BYU a few weeks later.

So what where the circumstances leading up to it?

One has to rewind to the uncertainty of BYU’s program shortly following the 2018-19 season to understand all of it.

The son of former BYU basketball player Matt Lohner, Caleb Lohner was introduced to Cougar basketball at a very young age and began recruiting contact with former BYU coach Dave Rose, and his staff, at a relatively early juncture. The connections to BYU were strengthened, with Caleb Lohner stating the chance of him signing with the program initially was a strong possibility.

But the retirement of Rose shortly after the 2018-19 season threw Lohner’s recruitment in a loop. The connections with new Cougar coach Mark Pope just weren’t there for a prospect who was hoping to make his final decision the following summer.

“I didn’t know anything about coach Pope and it changed everything,” Lohner said. “I mean, I’ve always loved BYU, but not knowing much of anything about who was going to coach me there — it changed a lot of things.”

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Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

      

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