Eric Mika is only a freshman, but is BYU's best bet at center. (Photo: MaxPreps.com)

BYU Basketball Summer Prospectus: 2013-2014 Position Breakdown


Brigham Young Cougars guard Matt Carlino (10) defends against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the first half at EnergySolutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Douglas C. Pizac-USA Today Sports

This week we will be giving you an in-depth look at the BYU Basketball team for the upcoming season. It’s a four-part series that we will call, the BYU Basketball Summer Prospectus.

Today is Part Two where we analyze each position group on this year’s Cougar Cagers roster.  Here is Part One.

* = Newcomer

Guards

Starters:

  • Matt Carlino, Junior (Point Guard)
  • Tyler Haws, Junior (Shooting Guard)

You won’t find many backcourts in college basketball this season with as much talent as the duo of Carlino & Haws.  These two would definitely be the best tandem out west.

Carlino ended last season with a wave of confidence in his game, helping lead BYU to a Final Four appearance in the NIT.  Carlino’s struggles have been well documented, but people need to realize Carlino is the guy that makes BYU go.  If Carlino is on, BYU is going to win a lot of ball games.  If he misses shots and is committing a lot of turnovers, BYU will lose.  It’s as simply as that.

A return to the NCAA Tournament rests on Carlino’s shoulders.  That’s a bold statement, but it is the truth.  Point guard play will always be the difference in college basketball.  ESPN’s Sean Farnham said countless times throughout last season when announcing BYU games that Carlino has the potential to be one of the best point guard’s in the country.  Can he mentally become a leader and make wise decisions?  If he plays like he did in the NIT, BYU is going to be in the hunt for some deep runs come March over the next two seasons.

Can Tyler Haws get better in 2013-2014? Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Carlino has had his highs and lows at BYU while his backcourt running mate, Tyler Haws, has had nothing but highs through two seasons in Provo.

One of the top scorers in all of college basketball from last season, Haws followed up his successful sophomore campaign with a spot on Team USA this past off-season.  Participated in the World University Games where Team USA finished a disappointing ninth place. But Haws gained valuable experience to help him grow in his Cougar career.

Some questions I have on Haws heading into this season, can he become a vocal leader of the team?  Will he be a more consistent shooter from behind the three-point arc?  Is Haws athletic enough to play the small forward spot?  The answer to all those questions won’t be answered until we see games tipping off in November, but I wouldn’t underestimate Haws.  I’ve been watching BYU Basketball for nearly 20 years and I can’t remember a better season from a return missionary than the one Haws had a year ago.  He will be the foundation for BYU to get back on the national stage over these next few seasons.

Top Reserves:

  • Anson Winder, Junior
  • Kyle Collinsworth, Sophomore
  • Frank Bartley, Freshman*
  • Skyler Halford, Junior*

The versatility and athleticism that BYU has in the backcourt this year is exciting.  Last season, after Carlino and Haws there wasn’t much.  Which was basically a common sentiment for the entire roster last year.  After the starters there was no contributors off the bench.

Kyle Collinsworth is a player that is going to see time at many different positions this season.  Many folks feel that Collinsworth should be the starting PG over Carlino.  That’s not going to happen.  KC’s athleticism will compliment Carlino well in the backcourt, but KC isn’t going to upend Carlino.  The only concern if both KC and Carlino are playing at the same time in the backcourt is the turnovers.  The concerns get outweighed by the versatility KC will bring to Rose’ lineups this season.

Anson Winder is a player that has had his moments where you say to yourself, this is his breakout game.  Then Winder isn’t heard from for 10 games.  Just hasn’t been able to string together games where he has consistent contributions.

Last season, Winder didn’t see time in games until midway through December.  Why?  It was usually listed as a coach’s decision.

Winder who is one of the faster players on the team has an opportunity to carve out a role on this team.  Time is ticking on him though.  If there’s no progress this year, can we honestly expect anything different from him as a senior in 2015?

Last year’s Cougar Cager squad was one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the Dave Rose era.  To improve the three-point shooting BYU signed Salt Lake Community College guard Skyler Halford.  Halford shot 40% from the three-point last year for the Bruins.

If Halford can become a poor man’s Mike Rose during his time at BYU, he will be a successful junior college signing.  Rose and staff haven’t had much success with JC signings since Rose took over in 2005.  Which is very surprising when you figure Rose had strong roots in the junior college scene before arriving at BYU.  Rose was a Head Coach at Dixie State and was mentored by former BYU Head Coach Steve Cleveland who was a former headman at Fresno Community College.

Then there’s Frank Bartley.  He’s the wild card in the group.  None of the newcomers that BYU signed will be expected to be a redshirt. Rose wants to improve the athleticism on this roster, and Bartley is one of more athletic guys on the team.

Ideally, it would be nice if Rose can form a consistent rotation from game to game throughout the season so they don’t have to turn to the freshman Bartley.

Bartley is a combo guard at 6-3 who grew up in Louisiana.  Had offers from the likes of Auburn, San Diego State, Loyola Marymount, Illinois State, and Fordham.  Very athletic kid who could benefit from taking in the program from the sidelines in year one, unless of course he comes out and is one of the best players in training camp.

 

Nate Austin will be a starter in the front court. Mandatory Credit: Douglas C. Pizac-USA Today Sports

FORWARDS

 

Projected Starters:

  • Kyle Collinsworth, Sophomore (Small Forward)
  • Nate Austin, Junior (Power Forward)

We’ve already talked about Collinsworth in the guard breakdown but you’re going to see most of KC’s minutes coming from the small forward spot this season. KC is a guy that can even play power forward if Rose wants to go with a “small ball” lineup.  KC saw time at the four spot on the “Jimmer team” in moments that season.  He’s athletic enough to pull down a lot of rebounds, and gives BYU a player that can lock down an opposing team’s best offensive threat.  Remember the days of Travis Hansen and Jackson Emery being those lockdown defenders for the Cougars?  It has been awhile since we’ve seen that.  KC could be that guy.

Nate Austin who finished last season on a high note comes into this year as one of upperclassmen in the frontcourt.

Coach Rose made a smart shakeup to his lineup towards the end of the year putting Austin and Brandon Davies in the starting lineup together.  Austin struggled coming off the bench last season, which was his strength as a freshman in 2012, but he flourished alongside Davies in the starting lineup.

If Austin can become more of a physical presence down low and not rely on three-point shots all the time, he could be a very productive player in the frontcourt.

Reserves:

  • Josh Sharp, Junior
  • Luke Worthington, Freshman*

Labeled by BYU Athletic Director, Tom Holmoe as “BYU’s version of Dennis Rodman”, Sharp had an impact on games for BYU by dominating the glass and doing all the things you don’t see in a box score. Sharp had five games where he pulled down eight or more rebounds, including a season-high effort against Loyola Marymount grabbing 12 boards.

Sharp suffered a torn Achilles after the WCC Tournament, cutting his season short.  Is expected to be 100% by mid-November.  BYU will pace them selves with Sharp on when he comes back.  He is very needed on this team.  The frontcourt already lacks depth, if Sharp isn’t 100% they won’t risk it.

Luke Worthington is a true freshman from the heralded 2013 signing class that doesn’t get much pub.  The Wisconsin native is 6-9 and a physical presence in the post with good athleticism.  Along with being a star on the basketball court, Worthington was a starting offensive tackle at Homestead HS in Mequon, Wisconsin

It’s not known at this time if Worthington, who is LDS, has plans to serve a mission after his freshman season.

Then BYU is holding out on hope to land California prep, Jamal Aytes who plays power forward. Aytes has offers from numerous schools. Right now it sounds like UNLV is the favorite, but BYU is still in play.  Aytes will be deciding in the next week where he is going to play this season.  Would be a solid addition to a team that lacks depth in the front court.

 

CENTERS

 

Projected Starter:

  • Eric Mika, Freshman*

From water boy to one of the nation’s top college basketball recruits, Eric Mika comes to BYU with loads of expectations.  This diaper dandy has athleticism that is off the charts for a big man.  Winner of the City of Palms Slam Dunk Contest, Mika doesn’t fit in the mold of former BYU centers, James Anderson and Ian Harward.  Mika can be a game changer from the post.

More impressive than Mika’s athleticism is the physical style of play that Mika shows on the court.  The starting center for Lone Peak High School that went on to win the National Championship in high school basketball last season, Mika was rated the 28th best prospect in the country by ESPN.  Lofty praise for a kid that played high school ball for only two years.

In the past Rose has had a tendency to let true freshmen gradually work their way into the rotation.  Anyone remember Ben Murdock starting over Jimmer Fredette?  Yeah, I try to forget that too.  Will Rose pull the trigger and give Mika the start right away at center?  If he wants to put together the best starting lineup on the floor he will.  In basketball it’s easier for true freshmen to come in and make an immediate impact.  Mika, Austin, and KC could be a force on the glass for BYU.  Rose needs to start him.

Reserves:

  • Nate Austin
  • Josh Sharp
  • Luke Worthington

Look for part three of the BYU Basketball Summer Prospectus tomorrow. We will be taking a look at the top story lines heading into the season.

Tags: Anson Winder BYU Basketball BYU Cougars Dave Rose Eric Mika Featured Frank Bartley Jamal Aytes Josh Sharp Kyle Collinsworth Luke Worthing Matt Carlino Nate Austin Popular Skyler Halford Tyler Haws West Coast Conference

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  • WisCoug

    I think that there is a case to be made for Austin coming off the bench behind Mika because of his propensity for foul trouble. Sharp is explosive, but has very little offensive game with his back to the basket. Worthington adds rebounding and defense, but not much offensive game either (at this point). This makes it seem obvious that Austin should start with Mika, but I think that playing him puts BYU in the potentially awkward situation were he and Mika are both in foul trouble and they have to play small with very little offense to be had inside (which will make it difficult to get the good, open looks from outside this poor 3-pt shooting team will undoubtedly need).

    In either case, I am really excited to see whether or not the NIT Carlino can show up all season long and for what is a very good 1-3 and a very interesting newcomer in Mika.

  • WisCoug

    Also, I am not sure I understand this statement: “These two would definitely be the best tandem out west.”

    I don’t think that they are the best tandem in the WCC, without looking at the rest of the west (unless NIT Carlino plays a full season next year). In fact, I think there is a defensible case that they are the 3rd best tandem in the WCC despite Haws being the best returning guard in the conference.

    The other two? San Diego’s Johnny Dee/Christopher Anderson and Gonzaga’s Kevin Pangos/Gary Bell, Jr. Statistically BYU’s two are the cream of the crop (leading all WCC starting guard pairs in scoring, rebounding, and steals and second in assists), but that is because Haws is carrying the load in two of the three categories in which they led the WCC (65% of the pair’s scoring and 56% of the rebounding).

    Pangos and Bell were 1st team and HM All-WCC respectively and Dee and Anderson were both HM All-WCC which puts Carlino (in the eyes of those that voted) behind all four of those guards and behind 9 other returning guards (including Haws). If Carlino plays better, then they are the best in the West. If Carlino plays like he did much of this last year, then they are probably not even the best in the WCC, at least in this fan’s opinion.

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