In preparation for the upcoming 2014–2015 BYU basketball season, Universe sports contributors Trent Christiansen and Alex Clark set out to create two hypothetical basketball teams by drafting some of the best Cougar players of this millennium.
Alex: So here are the rules, we’ll flip a coin to determine who gets Jimmer, then we’ll “snake-draft” our way through a starting five, plus one bench player.
(Alex wins the coin toss)
Alex’s first pick:
Jimmer Fredette PG (2008–2010)
Alex: Jimmer! Jimmer! Jimmer! Jimmer! Jimmer! Jimmer! Jimmer! JIIIIIMMMMMMEEEEERRRRRR!!!!!
Senior averages: 28.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.3 steals
Trent: You got lucky on that coin flip, my friend. But I get the next two picks, so you can have your precious Jimmer.
Trent’s first pick:
Rafael Araujo C (2002–2004)
Trent: I’ll take the best BYU big man this millennium with my first pick. It’s a good thing we aren’t drafting based off NBA success, because this article would not exist. A quick YouTube search for Araujo resulted in three videos: a 0:52 second career highlight reel that is so grainy, you wonder if was recorded with a printer; a video of Araujo losing a jump ball to 5’9″ Nate Robinson; and a singer/songwriter named Rafael Araujo, who is probably a YouTube sensation in Brazil. Maybe Big Hoffa really did take up an acoustic guitar career after his NBA career, just to push his YouTube highlights to page 35 so no one would ever see them.
But BYU’s version of Araujo was fantastic. He transferred to BYU from Western Arizona College and made an immediate impact for the Cougars. He led BYU to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances in his two years at BYU, although BYU went 0-2 in those games, falling to UConn and Syracuse in ’03 and ’04. Araujo was named co-MVP of the Mountain West Conference his senior year, and received All-American honors. He impressed enough in college to get drafted No. 8 overall by the Toronto Raptors in 2004, which eventually led to his two YouTube videos.
Alex: Too bad Hoffa’s NBA career didn’t pan out. My favorite Araujo memory may be when he was member of the Jazz and got ejected from a Summer League game for fighting with Atlanta’s Marvin Williams.
Senior averages: 18.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists
Trent’s second pick:
Travis Hansen SG/SF (2000–2003)
Trent: I’m probably a little biased on this one. Hansen is my favorite BYU basketball player of all time. I bleached my hair growing up and always wanted to get a matching tattoo with him. This is what ESPN the Magazine had to say about him in 2003. Here is a career highlight reel from Hansen.
Hansen transferred to BYU from UVSC after his freshman year. He contributed in two of BYU’s NCAA tournament runs, in a 2001 loss to Cincinnati and a 2003 loss to UConn. He finished his BYU career with a 44-1 home record, the best in BYU history. The Atlanta Hawks drafted Hansen in the second round of the 2003 draft, No. 37 overall. Hansen was a first team all-MWC player his senior year.
Oh, and he was also the co-defensive MVP that same year in the MWC. I’ll just have him stick on Jimmer, and that will be that.
Drafted: No. 37 overall, 2003
Senior averages: 16.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists
Alex’s second pick:
Keena Young PF/SG (2005–2007)
Alex: Keena Young emerged as a budding star right as BYU basketball was becoming relevant again. With new head coach Dave Rose at the helm, the transfer from South Plains College played a huge role in turning around a 9-win team to a conference champion his senior year. Young was the main focal point of that team, averaging 17.4 ppg and 6.6 rpg as the 2007 Mountain West Conference player of the year.
Trent: Keena was a phenomenal player. Great pick.
Senior averages: 17.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists
Alex’s third pick:
Tyler Haws SG (2009–2010; 2012–present)
Alex: Sports Illustrated predicts that Haws will be the nation’s leading scorer after finishing sixth in that category a year ago. Currently BYU’s fifth all-time leading scorer, Haws will challenge Fredette’s spot as scoring king by this year’s end.
The thing that makes Haws so special is how easy he makes scoring look. If there was a stat that tracked how many times a player made fans question, “Wait, does he really have THAT many points in the first half?” Haws would probably rank right at the top. At some point during the season you’ll look up at the scoreboard, see that number 3 has a third of the Cougars’ points, and then wonder if you’ve been watching the same game.
2013–2014 averages: 23.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.0 steals
Trent’s third pick:
Lee Cummard SG (2005–2009)
Trent: I might have dropped the ball a little bit, letting you grab the top two leading scorers in BYU basketball history (at least by the end of this season). Never fear. The immortal Lee Cummard is still up for grabs. The last anyone heard of him, he was playing for a team in Belgium called Okapi Aalstar. As far as I can tell, their nickname is “The Onions.” I’m sure playing with a team of onions is still an upgrade for Cummard over Jonathan Tavernari.
Cummard was the best player on a couple of good BYU teams. He was the MWC co-Player of the Year in 2008, and made the MWC first-team in 2008 and 2009. He averaged nearly 17 points per game his senior season, and was a durable jack-of-all-trades during his time at BYU. He played in 131 games as a Cougar.
Senior averages: 16.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists
Alex: Fear the Ears! I’ll have you know that Tavernari was the 2009–2010 MWC Sixth Man of the Year and is currently second all-time in three pointers made, behind Jimmer.
Trent: So you’re going to draft him?
Alex: Uh, well…
Trent’s fourth pick:
Brandon Davies PF (2009–2013)
Trent: Sadly, Davies has probably had the best NBA career out of anybody on this list. Davies appeared in 51 games for the 76ers last season, averaging 2.8 points and 2.1 rebounds in 11 minutes of garbage time per game. This year, he is averaging 12 points and five rebounds per game in 18 minutes per game (granted, only one game has been played so far). Davies has polished his game since getting into the NBA too.
Davies was by no means a dominant force in college, and he always seemed to struggle a little bit on the defensive end. But he was a double-double machine. He posted 11 double-doubles his senior year and played consistently well.
Also, best of luck to your bigs getting any rebounds over Davies and Araujo.
Senior averages: 17.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.3 steals
Alex’s fourth pick:
Trent Plaisted PF/C (2004–2008)
Alex: I feel like Plaisted was one of those tragic BYU sports figures that never really seem to live up to his potential, but it might just be that I’m still bitter that he elected to forgo his senior year to enter the 2008 NBA draft. Seattle selected Plaisted at 46th overall and immediately traded him to Detroit, who subsequently shipped him overseas where he hasn’t been heard of since. He was a force in the paint during his time at BYU, averaging 15.6 ppg and 7.7 rpg as a Cougar. Plus, I’ve always thought he would make a great subject for someone creating an ancient Greek sculpture.
Junior averages: 15.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists
Alex’s fifth pick:
Kyle Collinsworth PG (2010–2011; 2013–present)
Alex: I didn’t originally have Collinsworth this high. I was going to go with either Mark Bigelow or Jackson Emery, but my friend and basketball guru Keith Moore persuaded me to take Collinsworth. “Kyle can play one-through-four really well,” he said. “And he shut down Kawhi Leonard.” The numbers show that Collinsworth is really good at filling up a stat sheet. Last season he averaged 14.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg, and 4.6 apg, which appears to be just as good-if not better-than Plaisted’s junior year numbers. With three of BYU’s all-time leading scorers on my team, I’ll happily take Collinsworth and his versatile game.
2013–2014 averages: 14.0 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists 1.7 steals
Trent’s fifth pick:
Mike Hall PG (2003–2005)
Trent: All you need to know about Hall can be seen in this video, the greatest dunk in BYU basketball history.
Senior averages: 13.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.6 steals
Trent’s bench pick:
Noah Hartsock: PF/C (2008–2012)
Trent: There might not have been a more unstoppable mid-range jumper in BYU basketball history. He led the WCC in scoring his senior season with 16.8 points per game, shooting over 56 percent from the field. In 34 games played his senior year, he scored in double figures in all but three of those games (one game he got hurt within the first 10 minutes).
If you look hard enough, you can still see Hartsock around campus. He’s back at BYU as a graduate assistant coach.
Senior averages: 16.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.6 blocks
Alex’s bench pick:
Jackson Emery SG (2005–2006; 2008–2011)
If Jimmer was the driver of the 2010 team, Emery rode shotgun, providing leadership, lockdown defense and clutch threes when his team needed it the most. BYU’s third all-time three point maker averaged 12.5 ppg in 2010–2011, which is a lot more impressive when you factor in that he played right next to BYU’s all-time leading scorer.
Senior averages: 12.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.7 steals
PG: Jimmer Fredette
SG: Tyler Haws
SF: Kyle Collinsworth
PF: Keena Young
C: Trent Plaisted
Bench: Jackson Emery
PG: Mike Hall
SG: Lee Cummard
SF: Travis Hansen
PF: Brandon Davies
C: Rafael Araujo
Bench: Noah Hartsock
Trent: Whoever wins this pickup game, the other buys him 2 for $20 at Chili’s.