#75 BYU Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview


BYU Cougars


2017-2018 Overall Rank: #75

Conference Rank: #3 West Coast

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BYU finished the regular season strong last year by beating then #1 Gonzaga. However, that momentum did not continue into the postseason. After a win over LMU in the WCC Tournament, the Cougars were humbled by Saint Mary’s in the semifinals by a score of 81-50. That meant that Coach Dave Rose and company had to settle for a trip to the NIT, where they lost to UT Arlington 105-89 at home. Despite some significant departures, BYU will again reload and push Gonzaga and the Gaels atop the WCC standings. Coach Rose has lost plenty of big time players only to find another ready to step up.
2016-17 Record: 22-12, 12-6
2016-17 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Dave Rose
Coach Record: 305-111 at BYU, 305-111 overall
Who’s Out:
The big departure this year is Eric Mika. He left early to play professionally in Italy. During the 2016-2017 campaign, the 6-10 forward led the team with 20.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. No single player is going to replace those numbers directly, but BYU should be able to pick up the pace of their offense as long as they find enough depth. Kyle Davis saw his senior season cut short after just ten games due to an injury. L.J. Rose was a regular starter during his only season with BYU. The graduate transfer dished out 4.7 assists and added 5.5 points and 4.6 rebounds. Davin Guinn and Steven Beo were not particularly productive, but were part of the regular rotation. Jamal Aytes, Colby Leifson, Zach Frampton and Corbin Kaufusi, who is concentrating on football, are also not on the roster this season after playing limited minutes in 2016-2017.
Who’s In:
The Cougars welcome three eligible newcomers and four players who are returning from their mission. Kajon Brown and Jahshire Hardnett come from the junior college ranks. Brown, a 6-5 guard, spent his freshman campaign at Tulsa and then one season at Lee College. He may not be a big time scorer for BYU, but he can get to the basket and finish. Hardnett adds some much needed options at point guard. The former Fordham signing averaged 13.0 points and 3.9 assists at Chipola College last season. The lone incoming freshman is Rylan Bergersen. He is a good shooter and can use his 6-6 frame to attack the basket effectively as well. Ryan Andrus, Dalton Nixon and Zac Seljaas are all back after spending one season with BYU previously. Seljaas was the team’s sixth man as a freshman in 2015-2016 when he connected on 50.0 percent of his 136 three-point attempts. He is pretty much just a shooter, but obviously he does it very well. If he can pick up where he left off, the BYU offense will have another great weapon. Luke Worthington, a 6-10 forward, is also back from his LDS Mission. He started 21 games as a sophomore in 2014-2015, but averaged just 1.8 points in 12.3 minutes per game. Still, his size and experience is helpful when it comes to helping replace Mika in the paint.
Who to Watch:
The focus will shift to the backcourt this year where TJ Haws, Nick Emery and Elijah Bryant all return following double digit scoring seasons in 2016-2017. Haws averaged 13.8 points and 3.2 assists per game and was the most prolific outside shooter on the team last year. He connected on 40.4 percent of his 188 three-point attempts and should see his scoring output increase dramatically as he begins to turn into the next BYU superstar. Emery is a great shooter too and will knock down plenty of long balls. Emery saw his scoring dip to 13.1 points per game as a sophomore following his 16.3 point per game freshman campaign. Expect him to get back around his freshman total with more shots to go around. Bryant transferred in from Elon and averaged 11.7 points. He struggled with his shot, but has the potential to emerge as a dynamic scoring threat. With the addition of the newcomers, BYU has plenty of perimeter depth. The play of Hardnett will be key. He can run the point and the more he can play, the more time BYU’s shooters can spend off the ball.
Final Projection:
Yoeli Childs will be the new leader in the frontcourt. The 6-8, 225 pound forward had a very productive freshman campaign, averaging 9.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. Braiden Shaw and Payton Dastrup will add depth, but it will be up to Childs to do most of the scoring in the paint. This is a BYU team that has talent and the depth should be in good shape as well as long as the experienced newcomers are ready to go. The Cougars may not beat out Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s yet again this year, but they should be good enough to get back to the NIT and build towards a better 2018-2019 season.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
TJ Haws, Sophomore, Guard, 13.8 points per game
Nick Emery, Junior, Guard, 13.1 points per game
Elijah Bryant, Junior, Guard, 11.7 points per game
Yoeli Childs, Sophomore, Forward, 9.3 points per game
Luke Worthington, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 80.6 (29th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 74.2 (223, 9)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.6 (108, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.6 (62, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.8 (225, 7)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.4 (206, 9)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.3 (77, 3)
Rebound Margin: 5.6 (30, 3)
Assists Per Game: 15.7 (43, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.8 (252, 10)