BYU Basketball: Is Seneca Knight the perfect fit for the Cougars?

BOISE, ID – JANUARY 29: Guard Seneca Knight #13 of the San Jose State Spartans gets a slam dunk during second half action against the Boise State Broncos at ExtraMile Arena on January 29, 2020 in Boise, Idaho. Boise State won the game 99-71. (Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images)

BYU Basketball likely has their roster filled for the 2021-22 season.

BYU Basketball has received a commitment from LSU guard Seneca Knight to play for the Cougars in the 2021-22 season. Before playing for LSU last season, Knight averaged 17.1 points, 1 steal, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.4 assists while shooting 40.3% from the field while playing for San Jose State.

But is Knight the guy that BYU needed?

With only one scholarship available remaining on the roster, I was under the impression that the Cougars would be going after a defender.

While saying a defender is a very vague statement, looking back at last season, Matt Haarms kept opposing offenses out of the key and the team allowed only 41% of opponent field goals to be made which ranked 53rd out of 340 teams.

While 53rd isn’t elite or outstanding, when you consider that on the flip side BYU shot 48.3% from the field which ranked 20th in the nation, that combination became very effective for the Cougars.

The combination of having the 53rd best shooting defense and 20th best shooting offense led to the Cougars being a solid and reliable team most of the season. Teams that tend to be elite shooting but struggle defensively normally have a few head scratching losses when the top players have a cold night. Looking at BYU’s season last year, outside of maybe Boise State, there weren’t any bad losses, at all.

While of course expecting another seven footer was unrealistic, my expectation was that BYU Basketball was going to get a guy who could average two steals per game and force a lot of unbalanced shots in the paint.

But can Seneca Knight be that guy? Honestly, I don’t think so, but that may alright.

Offensive Juggernaut

A weird stat that randomly can tell a lot about defense is fouls. A player who averages a lot of fouls is normally, but not always, a good indicator of a good defender. Knight only averaged 2.6 fouls per 40 minutes which tells me that while he may be average, he likely isn’t the next Jackson Emery. To give perspective good defenders like Caleb Lohner and Matt Haarms have averaged 4.6 and 4.5 fouls over their careers per 40 minutes.

Looking at the other guys that BYU Basketball was targeting, it actually did appear that Mark Pope and the coaching staff were going after a defensive player, but when Knight appeared to show interest, it almost seemed like Pope took the approach of trying to repeat the teams success in the early 2010s when BYU was scoring more than 85 points per game.

If Pope didn’t target Knight to help out defensively, he targeted him to essentially outproduce on the offensive end the production that he could get with a defensive strong player.

In other words, BYU Basketball may be hoping to win games by outscoring teams this year as opposed to winning on both ends of the court.

If Knight is able to hang around the 15 points per game he has averaged over his career, the Cougars will have:

  • Alex Barcello – 16 points per game
  • Seneca Knight – 15 points per game (MWC conversion)
  • Te’Jon Lucas – 10 points per game (combination of Big 10/Milwaukee)
  • Gavin Baxter – 8 points per game
  • Caleb Lohner – 7 points per game
  • Trevon Knell – 6 points per game
  • Richard Harward – 6 points per game
  • Gideon George – 6 points per game
  • Spencer Johnson 5 points per game
  • Others – 2.5 points per game

In total, without taking into account that production will naturally go up without sharing minutes with Matt Haarms or Brandon Averette, this team is already in a position to be scoring about 81.5 points per game. That average alone would have been 11th in the nation in 2020-21.

Taking in basic production that occurs in the offseason, I find it very realistic to believe that Barcello could go up to 20 points, Baxter could be around 12 points, and the other guards will each add a few points as well.

I’m calling it right now, BYU Basketball will average more than 85 points per game this season and with even average defense, that will lead to the Cougars making a run a in the NCAA Tournament.