With classes starting in the next week or so, class of 2013 forward Jamal Aytes needed to make his commitment soon. Today he did just that, when he made his pledge to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas over WCC schools Gonzaga and BYU. According to Dave Telep of ESPN, Arizona, West Virginia, and Miami were all hot on Aytes’s trail.
Aytes is the type of player that can come into a program and contribute from the get-go. That prospect was crucial to both Gonzaga and BYU, who are weak at the power forward position. Each school made late pushes for Aytes, in hopes of stocking their roster with more depth at the post position.
BYU will now move forward with returning players Josh Sharp and Nate Austin, and freshmen Eric Mika and Luke Worthington. Although Mika and Worthington are great players, and can be counted on from day one, it would have been nice to add another player for more depth in the front court. BYU was a serious contender for Aytes, and this one should sting for the Cougar faithful.
As for Gonzaga, it was unclear whether the Bulldogs were serious contenders for Aytes’s services. However, the Zags could have used Aytes the most out of the two WCC schools. Gonzaga will open the season with returners Sam Dower and Przemek Karnowski, with Luke Meikle and Ryan Edwards coming in as freshman. Unlike BYU’s freshmen, Meikle and Edwards would be better suited taking a red-shirt season, and developing their skills. Sam Dower will likely start at the power forward position, even though he has played more center in his Gonzaga career. Louisville transfer Angel Nunez will be eligible to play in the middle of the season and he could possibly play some power forward, even though he is projected more as a wing. With Aytes now off the board, Gonzaga will now go into the season with a much weaker front court.
Overall, this was great signing for UNLV, and a huge whiff for Gonzaga and BYU. Aytes is a bulldozer in the post that uses his strength to his advantage. UNLV is getting a great player.