Sizing up BYU basketball’s new-look roster

Now that BYU’s basketball roster seems to be finalized after the latest dedication of Louisiana State transfer Seneca Knight, it’s time to look at what sort of workforce coach Mark Pope has usual for this season.

The Cougars as soon as once more may have depth with an intriguing mixture of returning gamers and newcomers. Not solely will BYU be a robust candidate to earn a bid to the NCAA Event, nevertheless it might be a Prime 25 workforce for the third straight yr as properly.

Primarily based on the inflow of expertise, added to the flourishing expertise already in this system, this workforce might be the perfect one Pope has put collectively at BYU.

Getting into his third season on the helm, Pope has shown an uncanny ability to mix a bunch of gamers from totally different backgrounds right into a cohesive unit by getting them to purchase into particular roles. This roster appears to have plenty of the correct parts to make some magic once more.

The centerpiece is senior guard, and workforce chief, Alex Barcello, who introduced two months in the past that he could be suspending his skilled profession and coming again to Provo for one last season.

Barcello averaged 16.1 factors, 4.7 rebounds and 4.3 rebounds per recreation in 2020-21 and he’s the bridge that connects the success final yr’s workforce loved to this season.

“Solely three different groups have an All-American coming again into their program. What he does within the locker room and his management is so unbelievable,” Pope mentioned of Barcello. “He believes he can maintain getting higher and actually make a push at his dream of being an NBA basketball participant. He has a way for a way onerous that’s. I believe it’s an enormous factor for our program. I’ve by no means gained a recreation, teaching at BYU, with out Alex Barcello. I wish to not need to strive for an additional yr. So I’m tremendous enthusiastic about that.”

Barcello shot 52.3% from the sphere, together with 47.7% from 3-point vary, and 85.6% from the free-throw line final season.

Pope and his workers additionally added two skilled gamers from the switch portal — Knight and grad transfer guard Te’Jon Lucas.

Lucas averaged 14.9 factors, 5.8 assists and 4.6 rebounds per recreation at Milwaukee final season and he provides the Cougars one other senior guard within the backcourt to fill the void left by Brandon Averette.

Pope is trying ahead to seeing what Barcello and Lucas can accomplish.

“These dudes are so enthusiastic about taking part in collectively. You concentrate on it — each of them are playmakers. It’s actually necessary for us to have two playmakers on the ground. You possibly can inform generally final yr we bought slightly stagnant after we had solely one among our two playmakers on the ground. Once we had none, it was actually troublesome,” Pope mentioned. “Te’Jon averaged six assists a recreation. You may depend on two arms what number of guys within the nation averaged six assists a recreation final yr. The house these guys can present one another and the playmaking capability they’ll present for one another goes to be actually particular. We expect it’s going to be a spectacular backcourt.”

Mentioned assistant coach Cody Fueger of Lucas: “He’s aggressive. He’s able to go always. He’s bought an excellent mindset for being an excellent playmaker. His purpose is to make his teammates higher. That’s what he does at a extremely excessive degree. He’s a guard that has some Chris Paul in him. He sees the play beforehand. He’s a guard that may deal with it. An enormous-time, playmaking guard that may do no matter it takes to assist his workforce win. He doesn’t want to attain however he can rating.”

San Jose State guard Seneca Knight (13) within the first half throughout an NCAA school basketball recreation in opposition to Arizona, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, in Tucson, Ariz. Knight, who transferred to LSU final season, is transferring once more and can be on BYU’s roster this upcoming season.
Rick Scuteri, Related Press

Knight is a flexible wing participant that averaged 17.1 factors, 5.7 rebounds and a couple of.4 assists at San Jose State in 2019-20. He shot 48% from the sphere and earned third workforce All-Mountain West Convention honors earlier than transferring to LSU, although he didn’t play final season.

“I really feel like I carry expertise and a aggressive nature as properly. I’m in a position to rating and create for myself and likewise for others,” Knight mentioned. “No matter coach Pope says he wants me to do, going on the market and executing it. He’s an excellent coach and I’m becoming a member of an excellent workforce. I simply need to do my half to assist make this workforce even higher.”

The teaching workers is hoping to observe a number of underclassmen make a giant bounce this season — ahead Caleb Lohner, guard Trevin Knell, ahead Gideon George, and guard Hunter Erickson.

Lohner led the workforce in rebounding final season. After a tough begin by way of 3-point capturing, he blistered the nets from 3 in West Coast Convention play. Final season, Lohner earned a spot on the All-WCC Freshman Staff, together with Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs, a projected lottery decide within the upcoming NBA draft.

“He’s been a constant contributor each single recreation, simply getting higher and higher and higher,” Pope mentioned final March of Lohner. “However he’s doing it as a result of he’s nervous about the correct issues. I’m so impressed with this younger man. I’m telling you, he’s going to be a star. If he can maintain worrying about the correct issues, his trajectory is loopy. It’s superior.”

The Cougars additionally return skilled gamers like guard Spencer Johnson, middle Richard Harward and ahead Gavin Baxter, though Baxter has played in only nine games in two years because of a shoulder damage and a knee damage. If Baxter can keep wholesome, he provides the Cougars a robust inside presence as a playmaker, rebounder and rim protector.

Different intriguing additions to the roster embrace middle Atiki Ally Atiki and forward Fousseyni Traore, a pair of freshmen from the nations of Tanzania and Mali, respectively.

4 gamers just lately returned residence from missions — guards Trey Stewart, Nate Hansen, Jeremy DowDell and Casey Brown.

How does Pope assess his workforce general as of late July?

“I do suppose we’ve got a bunch of fellows, some items that match collectively in a extremely attention-grabbing manner,” he informed BYU Sports activities Nation Thursday. “I believe it’s rising into a bunch that’s prepared to battle for one another and commit to one another.”

Gone from final yr’s workforce are WCC Defensive Player of the Year Matt Haarms, who signed with a workforce in Germany, and Averette, who can be taking part in professionally in Cyprus.

In the meantime, Kolby Lee transferred to Dixie State, Connor Harding transferred to UVU and Wyatt Lowell transferred to Snow School. Three walk-ons are now not in this system as Jesse Wade retired from basketball, Townsend Tripple departed for a mission and Brandon Warr opted to deal with teachers.

There are some sizable voids to fill — it’s virtually not possible to switch a 7-foot-3 rim protector like Haarms, after all — nevertheless it looks like Pope and his workers have managed to strengthen the roster general.

BYU, which posted a 20-7 document final season, played in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in six years final March. The Cougars bowed out in the first round to UCLA, which superior all the best way to the Closing 4.

“I’ve bought a bitter style in my mouth proper now nonetheless from it,” Barcello mentioned.

Barcello and BYU’s returning gamers, in addition to transfers Lucas and Knight, are hungry to get to the Huge Dance — and advance.

Lucas selected BYU as a result of “I simply needed to search out the perfect match, the place I can belief the coaches and coaches that may assist me develop my recreation higher and attain the NCAA Event and make a deep run. Coach Pope has nice items round me and does an excellent job of getting probably the most out of his gamers and growing them in a brief period of time.”

Expectations stay excessive at BYU. As typical, Pope’s cost is to problem Gonzaga for the WCC title, and return to the NCAA Event, with a reloaded roster.

https://www.deseret.com/2021/7/25/22588868/byu-basketball-new-look-roster-mark-pope-alex-barcello-seneca-knight-tejon-lucas-caleb-lohner | Sizing up BYU basketball’s new-look roster

Huynh Nguyen

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