Seniors look back on their journey

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Brock Zylstra redshirted his first year, Craig Cusick walked on as a junior and Brandon Davies was recruited.

They joined the men’s basketball team in different circumstances but leave the floors of the Marriott Center feeling nothing but happiness.

“They all came in at different times, in different situations, but they were all able to accomplish a lot of the same things,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “They all played in NCAA tournament games, all were able to win a conference championship, at least one. Those are things those kids will remember forever.”

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Senior Brandin Davies dunks the ball in a recent game in the Marriott Center. Davies, Brock Zylstra and Craig Cusick are finishing their last season on the Cougar team.

With the season coming to a close, Zylstra and his senior teammates can’t believe it’s coming to an end and are still focused on their upcoming tournament.

“It’s surreal right now,” Zylstra said. “I don’t really know how to explain it. Maybe when we’re out there getting our flowers from our moms and our wives, I think that’s when it’ll hit me a little bit.”

Zylstra has averaged 7.8 points, 4 rebounds and two assists in his last two years at BYU. He has been a leader and an example for his team, always willing to take the challenges Rose gave him. Since he joined the team, Zylstra has played everything from point guard to power forward and won the team’s Most Improved Player award as a junior.

“Brock spent three years here where I would say most of the fans didn’t know who he was, let alone how to spell his name,” Rose said. “Those are the kind of guys you get really close to, then you get really excited when good things happen for them.”

Zylstra isn’t the only senior who made the most out of his time at BYU. Cusick walked on as a junior and worked his way up to being a starter and hitting a game-winning shot against in-state rival, Utah State.

Although not a scholarship player, Cusick is grateful for the opportunities he’s had to prove himself to make an impact on his team. In his two years, he averaged 3.7 points and 2.2 assists and worked his way up to start in 12 games as a senior.

“It’s crazy to think that (the game against Gonzaga) is the last one,” Cusick said. “For any senior, you go through that and you never think it’s going to come, but it’s here. I couldn’t be more grateful for the career I’ve been able to have here at BYU because it’s been a dream come true, truly.”

Cusick said he comes out each night motivated to play hard for his teammates and coaches and feels the unity on the team as the players support each other through their trials and challenges. He has felt especially supported following the news of his father being diagnosed with cancer.

“With my challenge with my dad, my team has been 100 percent there, the fans and everybody,” Cusick said.

With players whom he can now call his best friends, Cusick hopes to finish out the season strong as he and his team make a run in the WCC tournament.

Fellow teammate Davies had a career at BYU that was nothing short of a roller coaster ride, but he describes it as nothing but positive. Improving every year, Davies averages 17.5 points and 7.8 rebounds as a senior.

“I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else,” Davies said. “I love my teammates and love the coaching staff, and it’s just been a great ride here at BYU. All the hard stuff is in my past, so it’s pointless to even look back at it.”

His teammates and coach praised how Davies responded to his publicized suspension at the end of his sophomore year. Zylstra said Davies “worked his butt off” to get to the level he’s at now and commended how he’s developed since his freshman year.

Rose is impressed with how determined Davies was to make things right after being in the spotlight and believes it will pay off in the long run.

“In Brandon’s situation, he’s been challenged in so many different ways,” Rose said. “He’s played a different role on each team and for him to be able to rise to the occasion each time after a disappointment at the end of his sophomore year, I think it shows a lot of character. I think it shows a lot of real bright future for him to be able to overcome tough obstacles and finish strong.”

Zylstra, Cusick and Davies have become great leaders and examples on their team and hope to carry that out as they leave the grounds of BYU.

“They’ve all had different challenges they had to overcome,” Rose said. “You’re always proud of the guys that come through and what they’ve given you and how that’s turned out, but this class is pretty unique.”

As happy as they are about their careers at BYU, the seniors continue to stay focused on proving their worth in the WCC, which is a testament to how hard they’ve worked as players in a successful basketball program.

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