#77 BYU Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

BYU Cougars
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #77
Conference Rank: #3 West Coast
BYU seemed to spend all of last season on the bubble. In the end they really needed to beat Gonzaga in the regular season finale or in Las Vegas during the conference tournament to reach the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars lost both of those games and had to settle for a trip to the NIT. The Cougars made the most of their opportunity, reaching the semifinals where they lost to Valparaiso. With the return of Nick Emery, BYU hopes that they can take the next step and get back to the NCAAs. Emery, a 6-2 sophomore, stepped right into a starting role and averaged 16.3 points per game. He knocked down 38.3 percent of his long range attempts and he could have some huge scoring outputs this season, especially when he is attacking the basket. That is something he especially needs to do against the tougher competition this year.
2015-16 Record: 26-11, 13-5
2015-16 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Dave Rose
Coach Record: 283-99 at BYU, 283-99 overall
Who’s Out:
Replacing Kyle Collinsworth and Chase Fischer will be nearly impossible though. Collinsworth was one of the best players in the country. He averaged 15.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 2.0 assists. It will be a long time before anybody anywhere can replace all of that production. Fischer had a superb senior season, leading the team with 18.2 points per game. At one point in his career Fischer was basically just a three-point shooter. He still takes a lot of three-pointers, but Fischer became a much bigger threat attacking the basket last season. As if losing those two were not enough, four other regular contributors are also gone. Zac Selijaas was a great sixth man as a freshman, averaging 7.6 points and 2.9 rebounds. Jake Toolson only played in ten games last season, but he did start five of them. Regardless, BYU is certainly used to playing without him. Jordan Chatman has opted to transfer after averaging 2.6 points during a promising freshman campaign. Nate Austin started a dozen games during his senior season and the 6-11 forward averaged 2.5 points and 4.4 rebounds. He provided some much needed depth and experience in the frontcourt.
Who’s In:
A couple transfers highlight BYU’s group of newcomers. L.J. Rose had some great seasons at Houston where he averaged 9.8 points and 5.3 assists in 2014-2015 and 8.9 points and 5.5 assists in 2013-2014. He will take over the point guard duties right away and he is poised for a big senior season in his new surroundings. Elijah Bryant, a 6-5 guard, comes to BYU from Elon. As a freshman two years ago he averaged 14.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.3 steals with the Phoenix. After redshirting last season, Bryant is ready to contribute for the Cougars this season. There are six freshmen on the roster. Stephen Beo, Zach Frampton and Colby Leifson should have plenty of time to develop with so much talent on the roster. That may not be so much the case for Yoeli Childs, Payton Dastrup and T.J. Haws. Childs, a 6-8 forward, will battle for a starting spot from day one. After averaging 18.5 points and 10.7 rebounds in South Jordan, Utah last season, Childs will be asked to do a lot of work in the frontcourt. Dastrup is another big body who has the potential to make an impact this season. He needs to get back on a roll after coming back from his mission, but he is a big guy who can shoot the basketball. Haws comes into the program with huge expectations. Most were created by his brother, BYU’s all-time leading scorer Tyler Haws, but a lot comes from the younger Haws’ superb prep career. He will be a big time scorer for the Cougars from day one.
Who to Watch:
There is a lot more returning than just Emery. Kyle Davis started all 37 games last season and he averaged 11.9 points and 7.5 rebounds. The 6-8 senior forward can get up and down the floor in a hurry and he will tally plenty of double-doubles this year. The frontcourt also returns Corbin Kaufusi, Eric Mika, Braiden Shaw, Jamal Aytes and Davin Guinn. Kaufusi started 23 games last season and averaged 5.7 points and 4.5 rebounds. This season he will be playing football for a while, but he will at least provide quality depth come January. Since Kaufusi will not be around early in the campaign, the pressure will be on Mika to step into a starting role. Mika, a 6-10 sophomore, averaged 11.8 points and 6.4 rebounds as a freshman back in 2013-2014. After a couple years on his mission, BYU needs Mika to pick up where he left off on the court. Shaw barely saw the floor as a freshman, but he is a big body who can at least eat up some fouls. Aytes and Guinn are small forwards and Aytes has potential if he can crack the regular rotation.
Final Projection:
On paper, this could look like an inexperienced BYU team, but that really is not the case. Rose is making his BYU debut, important players like Mika are returning from their mission and there is some pressure on the freshmen to perform right away, but most of these guys have been around for a while even if they have not been playing. That may lead to some inconsistent performances early in the year, and there are very important games early in the year, but by March this team will be seriously competing for a WCC title.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
L.J. Rose, Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Nick Emery, Sophomore, Guard, 16.3 points per game
T.J. Haws, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Kyle Davis, Senior, Forward, 11.9 points per game
Eric Mika, Sophomore, Forward, DNP last season
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 83.6 (9th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 72.8 (198, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.3 (58, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.5 (73, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.9 (30, 2)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.2 (33, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.0 (204, 5)
Rebound Margin: 4.7 (46, 3)
Assists Per Game: 16.5 (21, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.7 (82, 6)
Madness 2016 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#73 Yoeli Childs
#117 Gavin Baxter