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Yoeli Childs ready to lead BYU Basketball

Brigham Young Cougars forward Yoeli Childs (23) does an interview during media day in Provo on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

PROVO – It was back in May that junior Yoeli Childs announced he was coming back to BYU and lace up for the men’s basketball team.

Just after last season, Childs decided he was going to test his stock in the NBA Draft. After weighing his options he ultimately decided to come back the school, but he says his overall vision has not changed about going pro.

“The mentality is to play this season like I’m trying to be a first-round pick in the NBA draft,” Childs said.   “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.”

Childs says that is the mentality you have to have as an athlete to eventually get to the highest level.

“I want to play in the NBA more than just about anything,” Childs said. “My teammates and coaches know that and want that for me.”

For Cougar fans that may worry where his focus is, the junior assures them they need not worry. Childs says the most important thing is winning games. He says the goal is to help guide his team to the NCAA tournament and “have an unbelievable year” and then examine what’s next.

“I’m always going to do what’s best for my family and myself,” Childs said. “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.”
Last year Childs saw an uptick in his usage in the Cougars offense and saw statistical improvements. His freshman year he averaged 9.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. His sophomore year he averaged 17.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
This season will be a different test for the junior. Last season Elijah Bryant was the team’s leading scorer, but with Bryant leaving Childs will be at the top of everyone’s scouting report. Head coach Dave Rose says that will be his challenge.
“How is he going to respond to that?” said Rose. “How has his game grown to where he can continue on the pace that he’s on and not let defensive game plans and coaching strategies stop him from being able to continue to be successful?”
Yoeli Childs said he learned a lot in the time he weighed his options about the draft. He said several months ago that he got a nice tutorial of all the things he needs to work on to be able to move up to the next level. He has started to practice those things and wants show them on the court.
 “I’ve taken a lot of steps to improve my game. I’m a lot better on the perimeter. I’m a much better shooter,” said Childs. “I think I can help our team in a lot of ways on the offensive end by spacing the floor and on the defensive end by switching ball screens and guarding multiple positions.”
Rose seems to be on the same page as his star forward and will look to implement the skills Childs has been working on into BYU’s system.
“You’ll see him with the ball in his hands a lot more,” Rose said. “You’ll see him with the ball in his hands at the 3-point line and play like he did in that against Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga (in the WCC tournament). I look forward to seeing him continue to progress. He plays hard and he practices hard.”
The BYU men’s basketball team beat Saint Martin’s University last week and will host Westminster College tomorrow. Tip-off is set for 7 P.M. MDT. The Cougars will then hit the road and take on No. 7 ranked Nevada next Tuesday.