3 BYU players who need to shine in the NCAA Tournament

If BYU wants to make a deep tournament run, these players will need to prosper.

Fousseyni Traore hauls in a rebound against Kansas
Fousseyni Traore hauls in a rebound against Kansas / Jamie Squire/GettyImages
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3. Aly Khalifa

Aly Khalifa, Ze’Rik Onyema
Aly Khalifa backs down Texas' Ze'Rik Onyema / Chris Gardner/GettyImages

As previously established, Aly Khalifa is a genius. While his impact can be hit-or-miss, Khalifa's performance needs to be a "hit" to take BYU from a Round of 32 exit to the rounds of serious contention. When given the ball at the top of the key and stewardship over the offense, Khalifa is like an octopus with no regard for personal space--he touches every aspect of the game. With excellent passing vision and velvet-soft touch, if you're open, he'll find you.

When Khalifa has the ball, his teammates often use him as a barrier for the defense to overcome. Once the defender catches up to their assignment, the ball is already through the hoop. Cuts and dives to the basket have been the perfect counter to defenses' expectations of a 3-point assault. When Khalifa finds his teammates in the paint, they're wide-open.

Khalifa has been the perfect exhaust valve in case of offensive emergencies. His 3-point shot isn't too shabby, though he can't do much in the realm of self-creation. When he's on the floor, he draws the other team's biggest players out of the paint and opens up the lane for his teammates to take an easy path to a layup. If his defender decides to step into the paint to bother drivers, Khalifa is deadly when open beyond the arc.

While the Cougars have been able to win games even when Khalifa's impact is minimal, he will need to shine to help his squad reach their peak.

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