Freshman Zac Seljaas can be recognized on the BYU basketball court by two things: his high rolled-up shorts and his hot and steady 3-point shooting.
Seljaas, pronounced “selyaas,” is of Norwegian descent, and his freshman success is capturing everyone’s attention. The 6-foot-7 guard from Bountiful, Utah, is making 58.5 percent of his 3-pointers through the Cougars’ first 17 games and has hit from behind the arc in ten straight games. He is currently No. 2 in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage and already ranks 6th all-time among BYU freshmen for 3-pointers made with 38.
“(Zac) is finding a rhythm and figuring things out, and it’s paying off,” senior guard Kyle Collinsworth said following Seljaas’ breakout game against Central Michigan. “(Zac) had the same attitude the whole time, whether he’s playing a lot or not playing. That’s why he’s in the position he’s in now.”
The Bountiful High School star was the Utah Gatorade Player of the Year for boys basketball during the 2015-2016 season before coming to BYU. He helped the Braves win back-to-back 4A state championships in 2015 and 2014 as well as a semifinal finish in 2013.
BYU sophomore forward Jamal Aytes injured his ankle earlier this season, creating a void in the lineup that needed to be filled. Seljaas stepped up and is showing what he can do, scoring double figures in six games so far and averaging 13.3 points per game since Dec. 12. Seljaas’ latest heroics included 20 points in the Cougars’ 102-92 win over San Francisco Jan. 9 in the Marriott Center. He set the team’s season high for first half points with 14 and finished the game having made 6-of-10 shots beyond the arc.
Seljaas carries a modest demeanor and is quick to credit his teammates whenever asked about his success.
“I just owe it to my teammates for passing; it’s not about my success,” Seljaas said after his performance against San Francisco. “It’s about coming out for the win. It’s all about the win.”
Seljaas’ success continues following a breakout game in BYU’s 98-85 win over Central Michigan on December 18 when he scored a career high 25 points, including seven 3-pointers.
“I, with this team, found my confidence with it,” Seljaas said following the game. “They gave their confidence to me and it pushed me to be better, and it helped me on the court.”
Seljaas said he hadn’t anticipated the success he’s having this season and attributes his consistent shooting to working with senior guard Chase Fischer after practice.
“(Fischer’s) help is bringing me to just be confident every time I’m shooting,” Seljaas said following the Cougars’ 81-67 win over Pacific on Jan. 2.
BYU men’s basketball head coach Dave Rose said Seljaas is often open and able to make tough shots that help lift other members of the team.
“Zac’s ability to jump up and make a shot for us spreads throughout the whole team because you’re getting help off the bench and that’s what those starters can really feel, the energy from that help,” Rose said after their win over Pacific.
Seljaas made just 1-of-3 three-point attempts in the first half against Santa Clara on Jan. 7, but he didn’t let that get him down. He made 4-of-10 attempts by the end of the night, showing his resiliency.
“You have to keep doing what you do and even when it’s not going the way you want you have to stick with it,” Collinsworth said after the Santa Clara game. “Basketball is so much of a mental sport, no matter what happens, you have to stay in tune with your body and your mind and you’ll get back on it and that’s what he did. Props to him, he can shoot.”
Seljaas will serve an LDS mission after the season and sees value in playing a year of college basketball before doing so. He said Rose has taught him to be positive on and off the court, which is something he’ll hold on to.
Although Seljaas’ success makes the decision to serve harder, he’s sticking with it.
“You just know it’s right,” Seljaas said after the San Francisco game. “You just know that you need to go and serve.”