The BYU basketball team is looking to take the next step in 2016 after finishing with an NIT berth last season.
While head coach Dave Rose will have to replace the NCAA’s career triple-double leader Kyle Collinsworth, he has perhaps the most talented BYU roster in recent memory.
These new faces have yet to suit up in the Marriott Center, but they’ll likely play a large role for the Cougars this season.
Elijah Bryant may be a familiar face to some BYU basketball fans.
The 6-foot-5-inch guard transferred from Elon University last season but was unable to suit up or play because of NCAA transfer rules.
Bryant was able to practice with the Cougars last season, often playing point guard. He’s expected to be a major contributor to Rose’s team this season. He averaged 14.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game as a freshman at Elon. Bryant was also named the Colonial Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year.
Yoeli Childs, a 6-foot-8-inch, 225-pound forward, was one of the most highly touted players in the 2016 recruiting class.
He was a four-star recruit and was rated the No. 53 overall prospect by ESPN. He was also the second best recruit in the state of Utah, behind Lone Peak’s Frank Jackson.
Childs averaged 18.5 points and 10.7 rebounds as a senior and led Bingham High School to the 5A state title.
He’s another player who’s expected to make an immediate impact for the Cougars, but Childs isn’t worried about playing time. He said he’s just ready to be on the Marriott Center floor.
“I’m looking forward to the first game,” Childs said. “As a freshman, it’ll be so exciting to be in that atmosphere and see what it’s like. Practice here is intense and the speed is intense, but a game will feel even more so.”
Payton Dastrup might not be the topic of a lot of conversations, but this could change once the season starts.
Dastrup recently returned from serving an LDS mission in Panama, but he was a highly touted recruit before serving. A four-star recruit and No. 95 on the ESPN 100 of 2015, Dastrup originally committed to Ohio State before flipping to BYU.
As a senior in Mesa, Arizona, he averaged 16.5 points and 13 rebounds per game.
At 6-feet-10-inches and 250 pounds, Dastrup’s large frame should make him a force to be reckoned with for Rose. He’s still young, but said he’s looking forward to learn from teammates Kyle Davis and Eric Mika.
“Kyle and Eric bring a lot of leadership and experience,” Dastrup said. “They’re able to help us younger guys be able to understand that when we play as a team, we’ll be able to do a lot of things that we’re capable of.”
BYU fans — and Rose — have been waiting for what seems like an eternity to see TJ Haws suit up in a Cougar jersey.
Now, he’s reunited with the rest of the Lone Peak Three — Nick Emery and Eric Mika. It’s a reunion Haws said he’s ready for.
“It’s so fun to be playing with Nick and Eric again,” Haws said. “I’m really excited to be with them on the floor. In high school we really had great chemistry, and something that really excited me was that it was still there when we started playing again.”
Haws recently returned from an LDS mission in France, but was one of the most sought after recruits as a senior. He was ranked No. 51 in the ESPN Top 100 in 2014 and averaged more than 25 points per game as a senior.
But big-time scoring is nothing new to the Haws family. Haws’ older brother, Tyler, is BYU’s all-time leading scorer.
LJ Rose is a 6-foot-3-inch graduate transfer from Houston. As a senior, LJ Rose will likely bring much needed experience to a young core. He was sidelined for much of last season while he nursed lingering injuries, but he averaged 9.8 points and 5.5 assists as a junior.
LJ Rose had a number of transfer options, but said he chose BYU because the team was close to greatness.
“I knew coming here was a great opportunity,” LJ Rose said. “With my experience I hope to be a leader on this team and I like the direction we’re going. I watched a couple games last year, and I feel like they were just so close to taking that next step. That was something that I wanted to be a part of.”
This group of new players is joined by true freshmen Steven Beo, Colby Leifson and Zach Frampton. Dave Rose’s roster features 10 underclassmen, but the head coach isn’t concerned with the youth.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but this team works really, really hard,” Dave Rose said. “We’re trying to reach a really high ceiling, as far as our potential is concerned.”