A 6-foot-6, 230-pound basketball player from San Diego, California, might just be BYU basketball’s next secret weapon. His name: Jamal Aytes.
Aytes has the potential be the top contributor of this group in 2014. BYU has wanted Aytes since last year, even offering him a scholarship before he ultimately chose to sign with the UNLV Rebels.
Luckily for BYU, Aytes had a change of heart and is now BYU basketball’s newest member. Aytes made the decision to transfer after playing for UNLV for a year.
Although he underwent ankle surgery just last week for an injury he sustained in September, BYU is looking to have him back in shape and ready to play by January. He is ready for some real playing time.
Playing time was one of the driving forces in his choice to transfer after playing in only four games this season at UNLV. Aytes scored 11 points and grabbed three rebounds in spite of his lack of minutes on the court.
“I enjoyed my time at UNLV, but transferring gives me a better opportunity for playing time sooner in my career,” Aytes said.
The addition of Aytes to an already-promising roster should give Cougar fans even more optimism in BYU’s potential for the coming seasons. Coach Dave Rose referred to Aytes as being “tenacious” and an “unbelievable mid-range shooter” as well as a “great passer” who’s willing and able to tear up the court. As a versatile athlete, Aytes can also take on the task of playing physical while scoring inside. His game is similar to that of former BYU basketball player Keena Young, an all-around threat who transferred to BYU and won the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year. Talk about a secret weapon.
“He’s an inside scorer and loves to be known as an inside scorer,” Rose said. “We really value guys that can catch the ball with their back to the basket and then make a play.”
Aytes is talented enough to get playing time with his offensive skills. If he can make himself known to his opponents, he will open up the floor for the BYU shooters and leave them with perfect one-on-one scoring opportunities and second-chance points. Aytes already knows this, and he is excited for this upcoming season with the Cougars, although he won’t be eligible to play until December. But luckily for BYU, Aytes is here to stay.
“I’m looking forward to being a part of BYU basketball,” Aytes said. “I feel very comfortable with the coaching staff, and I think I’ll fit in really well. This is where I want to finish my college career.”
Aytes also talked about his team, stating that he was excited for the guys and how excited he was to be a part of it.
“We really are just like one big family,” Aytes said. “On the court we can hold each other accountable without really getting mad at each other.”
Aytes had a specific opinion when talking about a good team in general. He explained that the team is based on a foundation, and everything else just builds off that basic foundation. He knows how things work on and off the court.
“Jamal is a great player and adds a feeling to the team that lots of people don’t have,” roommate and friend Frank Bartley IV said about Aytes. “He’s really going to help us.”
Aytes is a spectacular addition to the team and won’t have a hard time fitting in at BYU. There’s not much more the Cougars could’ve asked for. Now they’re just waiting to see BYU’s new secret weapon in action, whether it be down low or smiling on campus.
“He is just as good on the court as off the court,” Bartley IV said.
Editor’s note: Aytes had surgery to clean out his ankle this past weekend. He sprained it a couple of months ago, and it hadn’t been healing. Aytes should still be able to play in December when he is eligible.