This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
After BYU's 94-90 loss to Ole Miss in the NCAA Tournament's First Four game in Dayton, Ohio, freshman center Isaac Neilson vowed to get bigger, stronger and better in the offseason.
"After the season ended, I started to work out twice a day. I started to eat more. I put on more weight. I was preparing really hard for the offseason. I wasn't going to go home for any more than three or four days during the summer," Neilson said Tuesday in between final exams at BYU.
"I was planning on turning myself into a really good player. I had the desire to try to be better than Corbin [Kaufusi] and Kyle [Davis], and I was going to outwork them all summer. That was my goal. I wanted to gain 15-20 pounds. I was working with the nutritionist here to help me put on weight. I was working with the strength and conditioning coach regularly, doing heavier lifts. I was gung-ho since the season ended."
Last week, however, Neilson received some shocking news from head coach Dave Rose.
In a customary exit interview that Rose holds with all his players after the season, the 10-year coach basically told Neilson that he wasn't in the team's future plans.
"I wasn't really expecting to leave," Neilson said. "I went in for my player interview and he just dropped an egg on me."
Sophomore guard Frank Bartley IV also announced Monday that he is transferring, and his message to BYU fans and reasons why were posted on his Instagram account. Those commeents are posted below.
Neilson, a 6-foot-10 forward from Mission Viejo, Calif., told me Tuesday that, unlike Bartley, it was not his choice to leave the program.
Neilson said that Rose suggested he should think about transferring to a junior college to get more playing time and develop as a player.
"He didn't say anything about walking on [playing without a scholarship] or anything like that," Neilson said. "He just said it would probably be in my best interest to find another place to play. … He said he kinda felt like we were on different pages. I guess he thought I would be a bigger, stronger, low-post player, and I guess I like space, pretty much. I am a shooter."
Neilson said he was shocked. At no time during the season did he feel like he would be the brunt of BYU's well-documented scholarship crunch. At no time did he have any run-ins with the coaches, or major disagreements.
"The season was kind of weird, sometimes," Neilson said. "He's a good coach, but there were some things he apparently didn't like about [my game] and that didn't quite sit well with him. … I guess we were just on different pages. I guess it wasn't in his plans for me to be a [shooting] forward. So he encouraged me to look at other places."
Nielson said he wants to keep the parting of ways as positive as possible and expressed gratitude for BYU and the staff for his time in the program.
"I wish there was more I could have done," he said. "I wish there was more clarity [during the season] about what I could have done to stay, or what I could have done last year … They said they were doing it in my best interest, so I can go on and be the best player I can be. The whole day I was in a shock. I came down with the stomach flu, or something. It wasn't a good day for me, so it was really hard to digest everything from that day. I just remember that I was like, 'oh, wow, he is releasing me.' They kinda threw this curveball at me, and it was just like, 'whoa, now I have to figure out a new place to transfer to.'"
Where will that be? Neilson doesn't know. He's right in the middle of finals, so he is directing all the calls to his father, Jim, back in Orange County.
"You could say I was bitter the first couple of days after, but today I have a better view of everything, so now I have a better outlook at what I want to do," he said. "Both junior colleges and Division I schools have their pros and cons. We are just keeping our options open. "
Here's Frank Bartley's statement on Instagram; As I reported Monday, BYU coaches were caught by surprise when Bartley requested a release last week and wanted him to return despite the fact that his playing time decreased as a sophomore.
"First, I would like to say that it's been a great two years at BYU," Bartley wrote. "I would like to thank all the BYU fans who have supported me throughout my time here. I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to play for a great coach and to play with great teammates.
I am on a mission to achieve some personal goals that few think are possible. By praying and talking to my family and coach, we felt like this was the best move for me.
I appreciate all the support from Coach Rose and my teammates with me making this tough decision to part ways with the team. I promise this won't be the last time you hear from me. I am excited about what God has in store for my future and can't wait to get started on this new chapter.
Again, thank you guys for a great two years. I love playing for y'all and I wish nothing but the best for BYU in the future!"