BYU men’s basketball: Cougars looking to integrate new, returning players

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Ari Davis
Nick Emery drives towards the basket in last year’s game against Pepperdine. Emery is one of four key returning players this season. (Ari Davis)

The BYU men’s basketball team’s goal for the upcoming season is to return to the NCAA Tournament built on a roster comprised of new and returning players.

This year’s team will not include Eric Mika, who went undrafted in the NBA Draft and eventually signed with club Pallancestro Pesaro in Italy.

Mika was the Cougar’s leading scorer, averaging 20 points, nine rebounds and two blocks last season.

The Cougars also lost forward Kyle Davis, guard L.J. Rose and center Corbin Kaufusi.

Key returnees for this year’s roster include TJ Haws, who averaged 14 points per game, three assists, and three rebounds in the 2016-2017 season and Elijah Bryant.

Bryant averaged 12 points per game, two assists and two rebounds last year.

Nick Emery returns at the guard position after averaging 13 points, two assists, and three rebounds. Emery continues to play in exhibition games despite being investigated by the NCAA for possibly receiving improper benefits from a BYU booster.

Yoeli Childs has also impressed in the exhibition games so far. Zac Selijaas returned from his mission and after rehabbing a shoulder injury is looking to pick up where he left off two seasons ago.

Payton Dastrup, Luke Worthington, Braiden Shaw, Ryan Andrus and Dalton Nixon round out the remaining returning players.

New additions to the team include Jahshire Hardnett, Kajon Brown, Rylan Bergersen and McKay Cannon.

Ten of the members of this team have played for BYU before, which is a source of optimism for coach Dave Rose.

“I like the fact that 10 of these guys have competed here,” Rose said. “They know what it’s like, they know what it feels like, they know what’s going to happen and how it feels in January. They know what’s going to happen when we get to February and the grind that league schedule is.”

Last month, the BYU men’s basketball team was picked to finish third in the WCC during the conference’s media days.

National runner-up Gonzaga was picked second in the preseason poll with Saint Mary’s coming in first.

BYU defeated Gonzaga in the final game of last year’s regular season 79-71 to hand the Bulldogs their first and only loss of the regular season. The Cougars play the Bulldogs on Feb. 3 at Gonzaga and on Feb. 24 in Provo.

The Cougars’ first game against Saint Mary’s will be held Dec. 30 at home.

Noteworthy raod games this season include non-conference matchups against Utah Valley, Utah State and Alabama while BYU will host UT Arlington and Utah.

BYU ended last season with an overall record of 22-12 and a conference record of 12-6, finishing third in the WCC.

The team defeated Loyola Marymount in the WCC Tournament before bowing out to Saint Mary’s in the semifinals.

 

The Cougars’ first regular season game will be at home on Nov. 11 against Mississippi Valley State.

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