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July 30, 2014
The Many New Faces of the BYU Basketball Team
BYU's basketball team found themselves grasping at straws last season for able bodies to contribute to the team. Although the roster showed 15 players on the roster, only 10 of those were in the regular rotation. The 2014-2015 roster is overflowing with talent and currently has 16 players on the team.
Last year's team had guys on the bench, they just weren't yet eligible to play. Jamal Aytes and Chase Fischer transferred from UNLV and Wake Forest respectively and sat out due to transfer rules.
Aytes and Fischer are poised to be big contributors for BYU this year. Fischer should be available at the beginning of the season, but Aytes won't see the court until just before WCC conference play begins.
Issac Neilson returned from a mission last year and rather than posting up under the hoop, utilized his redshirt year and posted up behind the bench. Two other players, Graham Pingree and Andrew Johnston were culled from the walk on ranks and saw limited mop up minutes at the end of games.
BYU lost two main contributors from last year. Starter Eric Mika is serving a LDS mission in Italy and Matt Carlino transferred to Marquette. These will be hard shoes to fill immediately, but there has been an influx of new players ready to compete for playing time. Coach Dave Rose has made due with a rotation of 8-10 players at times during the season, so the 16 available guys is a unique challenge for the coaching staff to manage.
The Cougars return three starters in Tyler Haws, Nate Austin and Kyle Collinsworth. Collinsworth has been recuperating well from a knee injury and should be at 100% come November. Skyler Halford started a handful of games last year, but may struggle to see the court this season, Halford showed flashes of great shooting last season, but was often inconsistent from the field.
Anson Winder is familiar with BYU's system and may start at point guard this year. Luke Worthington and Frank Bartley IV had varying levels of success, but should have an advantage over other newcomers by having been in the program for a year. Josh Sharp is entering his senior season and may struggle to find meaningful minutes with the addition of multiple other big men.
Two recently returned missionaries may contribute as well. Jordan Chatman returned a few months ago from his LDS mission and has hopefully been following the Tyler Haws post-mission work out method to regain his basketball legs. Haws and Collinsworth benefited by playing a year at BYU before they went on church missions, unlike Chatman who went on a mission right after high school.
Corbin Kaufusi, the other recently returned missionary, is following in the steps of his older brother Bronson and deciding to give basketball a try. Kaufusi had a football scholarship as a 3 star prospect but has reportedly decided to walk on the basketball team. Corbin is 6'10 and 260 pounds and will be a much needed addition to BYU's front court.
BYU adds three recruits out of high school to this year's team. Jake Toolson, Ryan Andrus and Dalton Nixon all were playing high school basketball a year ago and will be the young guys on the block. Toolson is a three star prospect and will be walking on the team due to the absence of an available scholarship.
Another transfer, Kyle Davis out of Utah State University, will sit out this year and will play for two years after this season.
Coach Rose and his staff have a problem on their hands, but what a problem to have! Coach Rose arguably has one of the most talented groups of his coaching career at BYU. There may be injuries or redshirt decisions that have to be made between the season and now, but this year's team looks deep and skilled. The competition in practices will surely be intense and that bodes well for any team, especially one who didn't always have that luxury last season.