Caleb Lohner celebrates with teammate Hunter Erickson. Lohner has exploded onto the basketball scene in his first year at BYU and is an integral part of the team's success. (Preston Crawley)

BYU basketball freshman Caleb Lohner ‘continues to amaze’

He goes by many names. Some call him “Beach Boy.” Others, “Goldilocks.” Some have even taken to calling him “Hercules” due to his chiseled features and trademarked blonde curls.

Whatever some call him, there can be no doubt that BYU men’s basketball freshman Caleb Lohner has taken the BYU fanbase by storm in just his first year in Provo.

“I think he’s an awesome athlete,” BYU fan Braden Knudsen said. “He’s been so fun to watch all season. Whenever he goes up for a dunk, I hold my breath, just waiting for him to slam it down. I sometimes forget he’s a freshman. He’s definitely got a bright future ahead of him.”

Lohner has been a frequent starter in the second half of the season for BYU.  It seems that with each successive game, the freshman’s contributions become more and more vital. In fact, just last month, Lohner tallied a career-high 19 points, on 6-of-8 shooting, and nine rebounds as the Cougars thrashed the Pacific Tigers in Stockton, California.  

“I’m just here to win games and help the team however I can,” Lohner said. “I’ve been put in a special situation right now to help these three seniors accomplish their goals. And I’m just going to keep riding, keep doing what I’m doing, and we’ll see how that pans out. But yeah, I love BYU, and I hope that I just keep going up and up.”

Lohner was a late addition to the roster, signing with the Cougars last summer after initially committing to the University of Utah. At this point in the season, it’s hard to imagine this BYU team without Lohner on it.

The freshman has put up some impressive numbers since West Coast Conference play started in January. Most notably, Lohner averages 6.7 rebounds a game, good enough for first on the team and seventh in the conference. He also scores the most points amongst non-seniors on the roster, averaging 7.3 points a game.

But despite Lohner’s dominance in the paint, head coach Mark Pope is most impressed by his unique mentality and work ethic.

“Caleb Lohner worries about the right things,” Pope said. “That is his greatest accomplishment this season. And when you build your game that way like he’s doing, which very few players are smart enough or willing to do, you have a chance to grow into something really incredible. He just continues to amaze.”

It was not always this way, however. Lohner saw significant playing time in the first few games of the season, but as with most true freshmen, the adjustment to Division I basketball was not a smooth one. It took some time for the game to slow down enough for Lohner to make a significant impact.

Lohner struggled with his shooting early, missing his first 13 3-point attempts to start off the season. Coaches and fans alike raved about his 3-point shooting in high school and practice, but his shots just weren’t falling early on in games.

Only after he became more confident in his role on the team did the lid come off the basket. After making just four of his first 25 attempts from deep, Lohner flipped a switch and made 14 of his last 25 attempts to finish the regular season with a respectable 36% 3-point rate.

In his breakout performance at Pacific on Feb. 18, Lohner missed just one 3-pointer, going 5-of-6 from deep.

Now, as the Cougars head into the postseason, the team will need Lohner to perform at his peak.

One thing is certain: Lohner and the Cougars are clicking at the right time, and with this group, there is a great deal of potential for something special.

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