The recent weeks have provided BYU basketball fans with plenty of off-season nourishment, as pieces of the past, present and future have been active.
Graduated Cougar Brandon Davies got some solid run in the revamped Las Vegas Summer League this week. He averaged 5.8 points and 4 boards in 15.8 minutes a game for a Clippers squad that finished 1-4. His breakout performance came in the final summer league game against the Knicks, getting the start and registering 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals. While he looked to have a problem adjusting to the increased speed of an NBA game, Davies showed the type of Mark Madsen-like hustle that should please any NBA coach. He had active hands that tipped offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds and opposing passes. His most impressive play came as he deflected a ball in the high post, sidestepped his man, and hurdled the floor seats while saving the ball in the direction of a teammate. A noticeable asset that Davies has improved is his jumper. His stroke from 15-20 feet looked much smoother, and he even knocked down a 3-pointer without teammates and fans cringing in nervous anticipation (as many BYU fans may have done during his career).
Overall, Davies reminded me of someone like Ronny Turiaf. He’ll be the guy near the end of the bench that you can count on for energy and hustle. He’ll use his small amount of playing time to grab some boards and bang around a little bit before retreating to the bench. And he’ll give the starters heck in practice. His ability to hit the mid-range J and the 3 will definitely help him catch on – a good asset considering stretch 4′s are all the rage these days.
Will Davies make the Clippers? Welllllll… with L.A.’s impending signing of Byron Mullens, chances are slim. That will give them Jordan, Griffin, Hollins, and Mullens up front – not much room for Davies. Matt Barnes could play the 4 in a smaller line up as well. While the writing seems to be on the wall for Brandon, his hustle in the summer league should get him a training camp invite somewhere. I could see him getting stowed away in the D-League to get him some serious playing time this season. His development will ultimately decide whether he sees an NBA floor this season or not.
BYU’s go-to-guy Tyler Haws got some solid experience in Kazan, Russia at the World University Games. The U.S. team went 6-2 and finished in 9th place, or, as I’d like to call it, 1st place of all the teams that didn’t advance from pool play. He saw the floor in 7 of the 8 games, while averaging 11.7 minutes. To note, only 3 of those minutes came in the 2 losses. Unfortunately, his performance didn’t exactly warrant more PT, as he shot 39% from the floor and 17% from long-range. And, considering his lofty standards, he shot a paltry 75% from the line. On the defensive end, he committed 10 fouls in his 82 minutes, which gave him the 2nd lowest minutes but the 5th most fouls. To his credit, he pulled down 3 boards a game in those limited minutes.
Regardless of performance, BYU fans have to be encouraged. Haws had weeks of playing with and against high-level competition. Even though Haws has an outstanding coach in Provo, he got to play for three more incredibly successful coaches – Bob McKillop (Davidson), John Beilein (Michigan) and Frank Martin (South Carolina). And he represented BYU on a national and international level.
Speaking of… a lot of twitter love went around this week as the games concluded. Even Frank Martin, the man most might associate with angry faces, got in on it -
— Frank Martin (@FrankMartin_SC) July 16, 2013
The 2013 recruiting trail is still open, and the Cougars have their eyes on Jamal Aytes, a 6’6 power forward out of San Juan Capistrano, CA. He came on strong this season and really made a push into the spotlight this summer. Some BYU fans may be reminded of Keena Young – an undersized PF that plays taller thanks to his strength, athleticism and high motor. That’s not to mention a smooth mid-range J, as well.
With BYU’s roster in serious need of help in the front court, Aytes would be a tremendous asset. Lest we forget, BYU football stand-out Bronson Kaufusi provided the most toughness in the front court outside of Brandon Davies. If he doesn’t return this season, who will provide the strength inside? It’s very possible freshmen Eric Mika and Luke Worthington could fill that void. And Aytes could help there, too.
It’s no secret BYU’s backcourt will be solid, with Matt Carlino and Tyler Haws leading the way. Anson Winder has had a summer to get healthy and contribute solid minutes. And Kyle Collinsworth is back from a church mission to try to replicate Haws’ post-mission performance from last season.
But, man oh man, the frontcourt could really use someone like Jamal Aytes. Davies graduated, Harward retired, Ambrosino transferred and Kaufusi may stick to football. Nate Austin has moved farther from the hoop as his career has progressed. Josh Sharp started to flourish but had to succumb to an ankle injury. Eric Mika and Luke Worthington will definitely be coming in to grab some minutes as freshmen, and Aytes could as well. What sets him apart is that he would be able to play the 3. He’s got the ball skills and quickness to play the 3 and the toughness and athleticism to play the 4. Oh, and I’m not sure BYU has anybody that can finish around the rim like he can. For reference, watch the videos at the bottom and count how many times he plays through contact to get a bucket. Gettin’ buckets like Uncle Drew.
Thinking of it, BYU hasn’t had a legit 3 since Lee Cummard and Jonathan Tavernari were roaming around the Marriott Center. If Jamal Aytes steps in and produces even close to those two players, Provo will remember his name forever and always.
Another important tidbit – From what I’ve gathered about Jamal, he’s the type of guy you want to have on your team. The team he goest to will be better for it. The school he goes to will be better for it.
Take a look at the two events that really catapulted Aytes into the spotlight this spring/summer