Utah assistant coach Chris Burgess moves to BYU while Kevin Young adds another coach to his staff

After two years in Salt Lake City, Burgess is rejoining the Cougars team.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Chris Burgess as Utah hosts Colorado in NCAA basketball in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023.

The coach who left BYU for Utah is reversing course again.

Chris Burgess, the former Cougar assistant under Mark Pope, is returning to Provo to work for new head coach Kevin Young.

Burgess was at BYU from 2019-2022 and was one of Pope's top local recruiters during his West Coast Conference days. But Burgess left Provo two years ago to coach at Utah, his alma mater. ,

In his two years in Salt Lake, Utah, he hit around .500 in the regular season. Last season, Utah reached a spate of wins in the NIT semifinals.

But since then, the Utes have lost several key players — including point guard Deivon Smith — and two assistant coaches. DeMarlo Slocum left the team last month to join former Utah State coach Danny Sprinkle's staff in Washington.

Burgess returns to a very different BYU program than when he left. The Cougars are now in the Big 12, the same conference as Utah. Additionally, BYU has shown a willingness to invest more resources in staff.

Young was lured out of the NBA thanks to $30 million and a seven-year commitment. This level of investment was nearly unprecedented at the school, which is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As for Utah, the Burgess loss is significant. Smith now has to replace two assistants and supplement a squad that is losing a lot of points.

The Utes make the jump to the toughest basketball conference in the country – and the Big 12 only gets tougher with the addition of Arizona, Colorado and Arizona State.

Smith is entering the fourth year of his six-year contract. Utah has improved in each of his three seasons. But that will be his biggest challenge.

Anna Harden

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