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Matt Haarms commits to BYU

Haarms goes with Mark Pope and the Cougars over Kentucky.

Rutgers v Purdue Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Kentucky Wildcats’ top transfer target has made his decision.

Former Purdue Boilermakers center Matt Haarms has committed to Mark Pope and the BYU Cougars, he announced Thursday. Haarms is ranked as the second-best grad transfer by ESPN.

Almost as soon as Haarms announced he was leaving Purdue last week, Kentucky reached out, and even incoming Wildcat Terrence Clarke said he’d like to see Haarms in Lexington. From there, the buzz that Haarms would land in Lexington continued to grow to the point it looked like he may commit to the Wildcats over the weekend.

However, Haarms opted to hold off on a decision, which ultimately came today in favor of BYU.

In 102 career games (40 starts), Haarms has averaged 7.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in 20.1 minutes per game. His career field-goal percentage of 62.5% ranks 10th all-time in Big Ten history. He ranked first in the Big Ten in that stat during the 2018-19 season (67.9%).

The 7-3, 250-pound Haarms played a key role on the 2018-19 Purdue squad that nearly made the Final Four if not for a miracle finish in regulation by Virginia, who ultimately won in overtime en route to winning it all. Haarms averaged 9.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game that season. That kind of experience would be extremely valuable for a 2020-21 Kentucky team that has very little experience, especially in the postseason.

This past season, Haarms averaged 8.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. He shot 52.4% from the field, 31.3% from deep (attempted 32 triples) and 63.4% from the free throw line. He ranks fourth in program history with 210 career blocks.

What Haarms bring to the table is what Kentucky desperately needed for next season, especially after both Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery left for the NBA Draft while Nate Sestina graduated.

Kentucky also has a pair of promising freshmen joining the team next season in four-star forward Lance Ware and five-star forward Isaiah Jackson. However, neither of them is viewed as elite one-and-done talents ready for a starting role right away. Getting Haarms would have allowed allow John Calipari to bring those two freshmen along slowly and potentially have them prepared for bigger roles by the time postseason play begins.

Alas, Kentucky is now left to search for another frontcourt piece to finish off the 2020-21 roster. I would bet on Kentucky finding a way to make it happen, but it will challenging to find someone as good as Haarms for next season.