BYU Cougars Men’s Basketball History Update

In its 122-year history, Brigham Young has won 1,939 games, making 30 NCAA Tournaments

Posted on April 18, 2024

  By SuperWest Sports Staff

In this series of updates on the history of SuperWest men’s hoops program, we provide a brief coaching summary, and a list of the current coaches, along with postseason results, regular-season conference titles, award winners, and all-time coaching records.

BYU began playing men’s basketball in 1903. In their 122-year history, the Cougars have won 1,939 games, making 30 NCAA Tournament appearances.

BYU won the first of its 27 conference championships in 1922 as a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.

The Cougars made their first NCAA tournament appearance in 1950 under head coach Stan Watts, coming within one point of reaching the national semifinals.

BYU’s 1951 team was even more successful, winning 28 games and once again qualifying for the NCAA tournament, subsequently winning the first of two NIT championships.

They would make five more appearances in the NCAA tournament under Stan Watts, and win their second NIT championship in 1966.

Stan Watts coached BYU from 1950-1972 | BYU Athletics

Watts retired following the 1972 season as the winningest coach in BYU history, and the program experienced five consecutive losing seasons from 1974 through 1978.

The Cougars returned to the NCAA tournament in 1979 behind Danny Ainge and coach Frank Arnold. BYU reached the Elite Eight in 1981, Ainge’s senior season.

That season, Ainge won the Wooden Award as the nation’s most outstanding player, the first Cougar to do so.

Arnold left following the 1983 season and was replaced by LaDell Andersen.

Anderson had several successful seasons in the 1980s, including the 1987–88 campaign, in which the Cougars rose as high as No. 3 in the national rankings on their way to a 26–6 season.

Andersen resigned following a 14-15 season in 1989 and was replaced by Roger Reid, who guided the Cougars to 20-win seasons in each of his first six years, including five NCAA tournament appearances.

Reid was fired in the middle of the 1996-97 season after a 1–6 start. Assistant coach Tony Ingle coached the team on an interim basis for the rest of the season and did not win a game.

The Cougars went 1–25, failing to reach five wins for the first time.

Following the season, Steve Cleveland was hired as the new head coach. In 2001, the Cougars won the MWC regular season and tournament championships, making their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1995.

Steve Cleveland coached BYU from 1998-2005 | Stuart Johnson/Deseret News

Cleveland resigned after the 2004-05 season to become the head coach at Fresno State and was replaced by Dave Rose, co-captain of the University of Houston’s 1983 “Phi Slama Jama” college basketball team.

Rose began the first of six straight 20-win seasons in 2005-06, coaching BYU to their first NCAA tournament victory in 17 years in a double-overtime win against the University of Florida in 2010.

The following year, BYU made further inroads as a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, advancing to the Sweet 16. Jimmer Fredette attained legendary status and was unanimously named the National Player of the Year.

On March 26, 2019, after thirteen seasons as head coach at BYU, Dave Rose announced his retirement and was replaced by Mark Pope.

Pope led a turnaround for the program, going 24–8 and being projected to be a lock for the NCAA tournament as a single-digit seed before all postseason play was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

His  2020–21 team finished the regular season 20–6 and made the NCAA tournament as a No. 6 seed, the first appearance in the Big Dance since the 2014–15 season.

Pope won 24 games in 2021-22, advancing to the NIT Quarterfinals, but fell short of 20 wins in 2022-23, missing the postseason.

BYU coach Mark Pope in 2023 | Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

The Cougars went 23-11 in 2023-24, earning an NCAA Tournament bid, and losing in the First Round. After the tournament, on April 12th, Pope accepted the head coach job at Kentucky.

Kevin Young, the Associate Head Coach of the Phoenix Suns, was named BYU’s new head basketball coach on April 16th. Before working for the Suns, Young was also an assistant with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Young, whose hiring was widely praised by former BYU players and alumni, will lead the Cougars in their second season in the Big 12.

Brigham Young University (Provo, UT)

J. Willard Marriott Center

Current Coaching Staff
Current Head Coach: Kevin Young
Staff: TBA

Postseason Results

National Championships: 0

Final Four Appearances: 0
Elite Eight Appearances: 3 (1950, 1951, 1981)
Sweet Sixteen Appearances: 7 (1950, 1951, 1957, 1965, 1971, 1981, 2011
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 30 (1950, 1951, 1957, 1965, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2021, 2024)
NCAA Tournament Overall Record: 15-34 
NIT Championships: 2 (1951, 1966)
NIT Appearances: 15 (1951, 1953, 1954, 1966, 1982, 1986, 1994, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2022)
NIT Overall Record: 19-13
NAIA Tournament Appearances: 2 (1948, 1949)
NAIA Overall Record: 2-2

Conference Titles (Rocky Mountain, Skyline, WAC, Mountain West)

Rocky Mountain Regular Season Championships: 5 (1924, 1925, 1932, 1933, 1934)

Skyline Regular Season Championships: 4 (1948, 1950, 1951, 1957)

WAC Regular Season Championships: 12 (1965, 1967, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1993)

WAC Tournament Championships: 2 (1991, 1992)
Mountain West Regular Season Championships: 6 (2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011)
Mountain West Tournament Championships: 1 (2001)

Annual Award Winners

Unanimous National Player of the Year: 1 (Jimmer Fredette, 2011)

John R. Wooden Award: 2 (Danny Ainge, 1981; Jimmer Fredette, 2011)

Oscar Robertson Trophy: 1 (Jimmer Fredette, 2011)

AP All-Americans: 5 (Mel Hutchins, 1951; Danny Ainge, 1981; Devin Durrant, 1984; Michael Smith, 1988; Jimmer Fredette, 2011)

Conference Players of the Year: 12 (John Fairchild, 1965; Danny Ainge, 1981; Devin Durrant, 1983; Timo Saarelainen, 1985; Michael Smith, 1988; Mekeli Wesley, 2001; Rafael Araujo, 2004; Keena Young, 2007; Lee Cummard, 2008; Jimmer Fredette, 2011; Tyler Haws, 2014; Kyle Collinsworth, 2015)

BYU Head Coaching Records

Kevin Young2024-present0-0000
Mark Pope2020-2024110-52020
Dave Rose2006-2019348-135480
Steve Cleveland1998-2005138-108230
Tony Ingle1997-19970-19000
Roger Reid1990-1997152-77350
LaDell Andersen1984-1989114-71130
Frank Arnold1976-1983137-94230
Glenn Potter1973-197542-36000
Stan Watts1950-1972371-254870
Floyd Millet1942-1949104-77100
Buck Dixon1937-193825-230
Edwin Kimball1936-194159-38000
Ott Romney1929-1935139-713
Alvin Twitchell1921-192550-203
E.L. Roberts1912-192888-490
Henry Rose1911-19118-00
Fred Bennion1909-191016-60
Clayton Teetzel1906-190822-60
W.A. Colton1903-19034-50

—More from Staff—