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Jul 19, 2021
kimdaddy35 Truly Addicted User
How good will this year's BYU basketball team be?
Barring something unforeseen, we have BYU's team for next season.

The biggest news of the off-season was the return of Barcello. He is one of the best shooters to ever play at BYU and bring great defense, ball handling and experience to go along with it.
Caleb Lohner is another returning starter whose role should only grow. I expect Lohner to be the second best player on this team and if he gets his outside shot down maybe even the best.

Now add two off-season acquisitions in Te'jon Lucas and Seneca Knight. I have watched a bunch of highlight videos on both of them, but I certainly don't claim to be an expert. I expect Lucas to start along side Barcello on the guard line. To me his best ability is his passing ability. He excels at finding the open man. He is also a very good rebounder on the guard line. He reminds me of a young Mark Jackson (style wise, I am not saying he is an NBA player) in that he isn't super quick or flashy, but gets to his spots and is solid. He isn't a great shooter statistic wise.

Seneca Knight is a longer, athletic wing. I think he is a 3/4 swing guy who does a good job of creating his own shot. Predicting where he is at is a bit more difficult than Lucas as he basically hasn't played in two years and when he did he played on a very poor San Jose St team. What we do know is he was very good at getting to the line and very good at creating his own shot. Hopefully the shooting stroke has improved and he can hit the 3 at a clip of at least 35% moving forward. He also has the raw ability to be a good defender, but the tape doesn't really show that. One thing is for certain his coaching will be a lot better here than what he had at San Jose as the tape shows poor sets and poor defensive rotations. I would expect him to start this upcoming season, but he has more competition than Lucas in my opinion for that spot.

Gavin Baxter is a big question mark. Gavin came to BYU being one of, if not the most jumping athletic players in program history. He went on his mission and both grew and tall wise and his body matured. Unfortunately we still don't know what he can/or has become as he has been injured for most of his BYU career. He now is coming back from ACL surgery. At his best Baxter is an uber athletic big who will block at lot of shots, rebound well and dunk a lot. Hopefully he has improved his shooting since last we saw him, but I would sure love to take just the guy we saw for a minute two years ago. If fully healthy....a huge if, I expect Baxter to earn the starting nod at Center.

Richard Harward was a reserve center last year for BYU and could step into a starting role for BYU if Baxter is not healthy or struggles. While Baxter is a sports car Harward is more of a dump truck who loves to bang down low using his big body. He is a traditional big who plays close to the basket. He has some limitations defensively and like Baxter need to learn how to shoot better (even if it is only at the free throw line). I can see Harward starting at the 5, but I would rather see Baxter there as I think it increases our upside. Either way, Harward is a solid player for the Cougars.

Gideon George is an athletic 6'6" player who needs to simply play more basketball. I hope he is playing some organized or pickup ball every day so he can learn some of the nuances of the game. At times George was our best player on the court. But at other times he looked so lost that you couldn't leave him in the game. He is a very good defensive player who will look to try and start at the 3. In my opinion Knight probably offers more right now than George, but that all depends on what he comes back as. If he can learn the game in and out he will have a chance to earn that starting position.

Spencer Johnson was a key reserve a year ago and really helped the team especially early in the season. Spencer is a good solid defender and his the 3 at a clip of 40.7% a year ago. He could push for the starting spot either at the 2 or the 3 this year. Spencer is a good athlete, but not at the level off a George or a Knight. The ultimately limits his upside. Either way having a guy like Johnson on the roster is a great thing for BYU as Spencer is a very solid player when called upon.

Travis Knell is an even different type of wing. He is the guy who is a high volume, high percentage (at least last year) knock down shooter. At 6'5" he is definitely more 2 than 3, but he can player 3 when needed. Knell needs to get better defensively, as well as work on his handles and passing. Still it is great to have a knock down shooter on the team. Knell will be in the pool to start at the 2 or the 3, but I don't expect that to happen unless he has really worked on his game in the off-season. He will most certainly be a guy playing an important role for the tea.

Traore and Atiki are two new recruits I don't see getting much playing time. I hope I am wrong as they both have athletic ability (more Atiki), but I would expect them to redshirt and look for more playing time in 2022-23.

Hunter Erickson is a very intriguing player for me. After coming home from his mission he looked less athletic than previously and struggled to get minutes. All accounts I have seen recently is that his athleticism is back. If so I expect him to get some valuable playing time. In limited minutes he shot the ball well, but struggled a bit defensively. Hopefully he makes a jump in year 2.

Trey Stewart and Nate Hansen are both guys I am very excited about that should be playing for BYU this Winter. But with both recently returning from missions it is hard to expect too much from either of them. Casey Brown is also in this boat although I am not as high on him as the other two.

Overall I see this team as being better than the 2020-21 version. That team did well to earn a 6 seed (I don't think they were that talented) and I can see this team earning 5 or 6 if they stay healthy and gel together as a team, maybe even higher if they can be good defensively (which they have the potential to do). I do believe even if the seed doesn't get better that this will be a better overall team than last year.
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