BYU basketball is looking to the future — the very foggy, unsure future.
The young basketball team endured the 2016–17 season with a 22–12 record, pulling off a third place finish in the West Coast Conference and falling in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament to close out its season.
On Tuesday afternoon, BYU head coach Dave Rose sat down with the media to reflect on the past season and look forward to the 2017–18 season. But the truth is Rose is currently stuck with the spinning wheel of death.
The BYU coaches’ basketball roster is pending with an unsecured roster. With 10 underclassmen on the team during the 2016–17 season, BYU anticipated at least three years with a consistent team. However, three players with remaining eligibility are transferring while two others hang in limbo. Then there are four returning players back from their missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I wish guys would give it a little more time and not feel like the grass is always greener after one experience, but I think it’s something we all have to adjust to,” Rose said.
“I wish guys would give it a little more time and not feel like the grass is always greener after one experience, but I think it’s something we all have to adjust to.” — Dave Rose, BYU basketball coach
As of now, BYU will return six scholarship players including Elijah Bryant, Yoeli Childs, Payton Dastrup, Nick Emery, TJ Haws and Braiden Shaw. The lost two players to graduation — L.J. Rose and Kyle Davis — both who couldn’t finish out their senior seasons because of knee injuries.
“The most important thing for us right now is to finalize our roster for next season and put that together,” Rose said.
Here is the current status of the ebb and flow of BYU basketball’s ever-changing roster:
Following post-season interviews with players, three players have decided to leave BYU’s program: Davin Guinn, Steven Beo and Jamal Aytes.
Guinn, a 6-foot-5 guard with one year of eligibility remaining, graduates in August and has chosen to end his basketball career in order to pursue a law degree. While Rose didn’t specifically say Guinn would attend law school at BYU, he did reference Jordan Chatman, a BYU guard from the 2015–16 season who transferred to Boston College after BYU’s law school wouldn’t allow him to attend law school and play basketball at the same time.
“It was a really tough decision for both of us,” Rose said. “Law school and basketball don’t go together, and it’s funny that we go two years in a row with a law school issue and a player.”
Then freshman guard Beo decided to transfer after his initial interview with the coaches.
“With Zac (Seljaas) coming home, it puts seven plus scholarship players in one class. So we had discussions about how maybe we could fix that, adjust it, make a work a little bit better,” Rose said. “Steven was one that we had discussions with, and after initial discussions, the next visit we had he decided he wanted to transfer.”
Aytes, who graduates at the end of this week, decided to transfer when the coaches’ vision for him didn’t match his own.
“His role on next year’s team wants to be a little bit bigger than the role I think he would serve for us, so he’s going to try and finish his eligibility somewhere else as a fifth year graduate senior,” Rose said.
Sitting in Limbo
The official statement is that BYU forward Corbin Kaufusi is “concentrating on football” for the 2017–18 season. However, Rose hasn’t accepted that his basketball career may have officially come to a close.
“After the season was over and we talked, he really wants to concentrate on preparing for professional football if he can,” Rose said. “I think the transition was a lot harder than he thought it was going to be. His body was really different and it took him a while for his body to change. Obviously, he’s going to leave here with a special place in the hearts of coaches, teammates, fans. There’s not too many guys who are 3-and-0 in The Kennel.”
One of the most important players hanging in limbo is BYU forward Eric Mika. The BYU sophomore declared for the NBA Draft in March and has until May 24 to make his final decision: withdraw his name from the draft or continue forward with the draft. Rose said Mika has been flying out to practice with professional athletes on the weekend, but he was taking his BYU finals this week.
“This will be an interesting process because with Eric in the draft, right now,” Rose said, “you have to hold a space for him until he makes a decision on exactly what he’s going to do.”
“This will be an interesting process because with Eric in the draft, right now, you have to hold a space for him until he makes a decision on exactly what he’s going to do.” — Dave Rose, BYU basketball coach
Four BYU players are returning from their missions for their sophomore seasons: Zac Seljaas, Dalton Nixon, Ryan Andrus and Luke Worthington.
Seljaas returned home early from his mission at the end of March from a shoulder injury. Then Andrus returned home earlier this week and has already been in the office talking to coaches.
“(Andrus) looks pretty much the same,” Rose said. “He’s a skilled kid. We’d love to have him in a position where he can spread the floor a little bit more and give more space to our guards. But he’s capable of playing with his back to the basket, too.”
Nixon will return home in May from his mission while Worthington will get home in the summer.
Thus far, BYU has only signed one player for the 2017–18 season. Rylan Bergersen is a 6-foot-6 guard from Boise, Idaho. He prepped at Borah High School before reclassifying and playing the 2016–17 season at Link Year in Branson, Missouri.
“I love his length. He’s long, and he plays multiple positions,” Rose said. “He’s really good with the ball, and he’s a good passer and he can make really big shots. He’s got a great midrange game. His versatility will add to the depth of our guard line. Our guard line could be as good as it’s ever been with the group of guys that we have. We have good experience and some good young guys.”
As far as other potential recruits, Rose is excited about the group, but is hoping to have assistant coach Terry Nashif’s replacement soon to help expand the recruiting pool.
“I really like the potential players,” Rose said. “I like the pool that we have. I really do believe with a new coach added to our staff — and hopefully some real reach with that individual’s connections — that we’ll be able to keep this thing going and compete for championships.”
Applications for the BYU assistant coach job close on April 27 and Rose hopes to have a new coach by the first or second week of May. Until then, pending, please wait.