June 21, 2024


Exercise makes you strong

Who is Kahil Fennell, BYU’s newest assistant coach?

There was a time, in his younger days, when Kahil Fennell did not like BYU.

At all.

Expanding up in Hawaii, his family members had UH football tickets so, the natural way, he possessed an aversion for the Cougars. 

“My earliest reminiscences are of Ty Detmer and (BYU) kicking our behinds,” Fennell explained Friday, when he was released to the media soon after remaining hired as Mark Pope’s latest assistant basketball mentor.

“I started off off as extremely a lot not a BYU enthusiast.”

A long time afterwards, Fennell will enjoy a vital purpose in the Cougars’ impending bounce from the West Coastline Meeting to the Significant 12in the 2023-24 season.

And, yes, he’s a supporter of BYU now. 

“Obviously, a incredible quantity of regard for the athletic software listed here and the neighborhood alone. It’s very special, it is incredibly unique. It is different,” he said.

“The conventional which is held up listed here, the tenets of not only the religion but the community and the means and the want-to to develop up folks around you, which is not like other destinations. That can make this place seriously one of a kind and specific. That’s normally spoken to me.”

As a Black gentleman who’s not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-working day Saints, Fennell found himself drawn by the mission of the university. “My family and I are all in,” he stated, adding that his family’s standards match those people of the university.

“We’re all pulling the exact same way,” he claimed. “That’s big for me, which is enormous for my household. Those are the tenets that we reside by. That was a big part of me becoming attracted to the work.”

Fennell praised the “tremendous” facilities at the college — “right around the top rated with any one in the country.”

And he enjoys performing with Pope, and assistants Cody Fueger and Nick Robinson. He enjoys the environment as nicely.

“It’s interesting to occur to function every day. It is amazing to have an office that overlooks the court docket,” he mentioned. “It’s cool to go out on the patio and see the mountains, which I’m not used to.

“You experience like you can get operate performed and be content to be in this article each working day.”

Owning appear from a Power 5 conference application, Louisville, Fennell thinks BYU is properly-positioned to contend in the Big 12. 

“That’s a substantial explanation why I was energized about this task in the 1st position,” he said. “The way mentor Pope and Nick and Cody have recruited and the way they are so tenacious about it — their enthusiasm, their strength to recruit at a superior amount and to dive into recruiting battles with any person and every person … They’re heading to go to war.

“Getting talent, having local expertise, receiving intercontinental expertise, they put these types of a huge emphasis on that. We’re going to be a truly proficient crew, not only this 12 months, but moving forward … We’re heading to be truly well-organized to earn game titles, no matter if in the Massive 12 or outside of. I’m thrilled about it.”

‘Exhausting and exhaustive’

When assistant Chris Burgess left past thirty day period to get a similar career at Utah, Pope began what he identified as an “exhausting and exhaustive process” to find Burgess’ substitution. 

“This is most likely our very last prospect at acquiring a substantial improve on our personnel as we make this transition,” Pope stated. “All of us realize the gravity of this addition to our staff members. It had to be the ideal man, and Kahil is precisely the appropriate person … We had a opportunity to get better and I’m actually confident that we did.

“This is an important choice for us. This is genuinely very important to the following several decades of our system, and he’s the person.”

Many candidates had been regarded as for the job. 

“It could be three figures, in terms of the selection of names we went as a result of,” Pope explained.

But Fennell rose to the prime of the record of candidates.

“I was a long way marketed on him right before he even bought here,” Pope claimed. “We put in a large amount of time collectively.”

New BYU assistant men’s basketball coach Kahil Fennell is introduced at a press conference in Provo, Utah, on May 27, 2022.

New BYU assistant men’s basketball coach Kahil Fennell is launched at a push convention in Provo, Utah, on May possibly 27, 2022.

Pope and Fennell feel to be kindred spirits in quite a few approaches, even though they didn’t genuinely know each individual other right before the using the services of system started. 

Whilst Pope still left healthcare school to get a low-level assistant coaching job at Georgia to get back into college or university basketball, Fennell marketed health care tools for yrs in advance of knowing that coaching was his true calling.

Fennell served as an assistant mentor at Alameda Substantial in California in advance of transferring on to Division II UT-Permian Basin and then having an assistant coaching position at Portland State. 

“I get it,” Pope explained stated of Fennell having back again into the activity. Fennell “had the courage to actually do it. From that point on, what he’s accomplished since has been outstanding.”

What does Fennell recall about his original discussions with Pope?

“Coach Pope is a pressure of character,” Fennell mentioned. “You’re in a conversation with him but it feels like extra than that, bouncing suggestions off each and every other. It’s one particular of the additional exceptional early interactions I have experienced in this business.

“I have these a large sum of respect for his basketball head, but just about much more for his energy to be terrific and his competitive mother nature. That really matches mine. That’s wherever we actually noticed eye to eye … We’re exceptionally driven. There’s no other solution other than to get. Which is it for me. I’m in this article to acquire.”

Lessons at Louisville

For the previous 4 a long time, Fennell has been on the staff at Atlantic Coastline Conference energy Louisville. He spent the initial 3 many years as the director of basketball operations and final yr as an assistant.

Those decades undoubtedly formed him — and it was a finding out encounter. Louisville liked some very good seasons but very last 12 months was not a single of them. 

Head coach Chris Mack served a 6-game suspension to begin the 12 months after being a sufferer of an extortion try by a former assistant, and there was an ongoing NCAA investigation into Louisville connected to an FBI investigation into bribery in school basketball. 

Mack was fired past January. 

Just before that, the social justice challenges that came into sharp emphasis for the duration of the summer months of 2020, Fennell “participated in and structured some marches with our workforce,” he claimed, to bring attention to the controversial death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, “which was really important to our players, providing them that voice and that system.”

As for his time at Louisville, “it unquestionably had its ups and downs,” Fennell stated. “Obviously, the initially a few several years had been potent and it was complicated with COVID and some of the social justice things was complicated as properly, staying in Louisville and the coronary heart of the Breonna Taylor condition.

“Then this previous time was disappointing for us on the floor with so numerous interruptions heading on with the application and the coaching employees and a federal investigation. I uncovered rather a bit. There’s so substantially to glean from that encounter. For me, it is continuing to put the players 1st set profitable to start with … and have our student-athletes increase their time on campus … which is going to be the goal. I under no circumstances want that to be misplaced in distractions off the flooring. If there is one particular factor, I’d say which is what I have taken absent from it.”

Fennell claimed he and his family — wife Sarah, and their two boys, Ezra and Koa — feel relaxed at BYU. 

“It’s a distinctive scenario and a special position but my family could not feel more supported in the time that we have been portion of this process,” he said.

“It’s been touching in a great deal of methods. It is an setting and a local community that is welcomed us with open arms, and that is all I can inquire for.”

‘Compete for championships’

Fennell stated he just cannot hold out to work with Pope, Fueger and Robinson, indicating that he’s “a huge believer in people fellas. I’m a massive believer in this local community and this athletic system. It’s a huge thrill for me.

“I hope to compete for championships in the around long run. That is what this location is about. Clearly, it’s unique in its standards and what they demand from customers of their student-athletes and their workers,” he extra. “I assume that can make it a minor little bit additional particular. When you can do people items and blend that, with a aim of competing for championships, it can make it a truly distinctive area and I’m enthusiastic to be component of it.”

A single of Fennell’s priorities, of training course, will be recruiting. He provides recruiting expertise “at the ACC amount and what that appears like night in and night out,” Fennell claimed. “It’s a war, especially now with the NIL and all the things that goes with that … I’m likely to be finding out from these men. It’s a tremendous staff members.”

Additional Fennell: “I’m going to function truly, actually tough at (recruiting). I’m heading to uncover every rock around and considerably — in this article in Utah, domestically, there are some great players here — definitely, abroad they’ve had great achievements in this program. I’ll do what ever I can to continue the recruiting results they already designed.”

Selecting method

All through the prolonged employing approach, common for BYU, Pope explained he was nervous due to the fact Fennell was an assistant coaching applicant for “at the very least two large-majors and a definitely very good mid-significant that have been chasing him also.”

Pope talked to the coaches that Fennell labored with at both equally Louisville and Portland State. 

“He’s heading to be the first man in the workplace and the final to go away just about every solitary working day,” Mack advised Pope. 

Other qualities set Fennell at the major of Pope’s checklist. 

“That’s some thing we universally listened to, the partnership he builds with his gamers and his recruiting acumen,” he reported. “As you dig into his life tale, he has a magnificent life story. He’s been in each and every kind of surroundings, just about every sort of predicament that you could imagine.

“The variety of his encounter is a large deal for us. He’s obtained a breadth of knowledge all over the nation, just like mentor Fueger and coach Robinson do. The other factor we read was that he’s on the court docket all day very long, functioning with the guys.”

Fennell mentioned Burgess is a close friend of his and he discovered that there may well be an opening at BYU. 

“I assumed there may well be an option below,” Fennell stated.

Fennell also talked to his former manager at Portland State, Barret Peery, a Payson indigenous who is now an assistant coach at Texas Tech of the Significant 12, to find out far more about BYU.  

“He is aware of the space effectively and he’s a significant admirer of this software,” Fennell mentioned of Peery. 

One evening, Pope and his wife, Lee Anne, went to supper with Fennell and his spouse. 

“I was like, ‘Oh, Sarah’s way much better than he is,’” Pope reported. “That was kind of the lynchpin. His family members is actually specific. He delivers a ton.”

Pope called Fennell “a world-class communicator” and a gentleman that “has a genuine present at constructing interactions … At every single area he’s been, he’s been promoted inside of the system actually rapidly.”

“He’s seriously genuine and he has some authentic depth to him. He’s executing this career for the suitable causes,” Pope mentioned. “He’s plainly not chasing cash because of choices he’s made in his lifestyle. He’s chasing a partnership with these fellas and he’s chasing a probability to be a element of a little something actually specific.”

When he was younger, Fennell could not have appreciated BYU, but he does now. 

“One of the wonderful filters we have at BYU is, this college is exclusive in some unbelievably wonderful ways that make it so unique,” Pope said. “One of the filters is, not everyone sees that. Kahil observed it from the pretty beginning. It is some thing he’s genuinely embraced.”