Isaac Neilson was one of the last BYU players that faced the rule that Mormon men could not go on their LDS missions until they turned 19. Just several months after he turned 19 in December 2011 and left on his mission, the age requirement was changed to 18 in October 2012. Had he been slightly younger, the new rule could have impacted Neilson and allowed him to leave on his mission directly after finishing high school instead of having to wait for over six months until his 19th birthday.
Neilson graduated high school in the spring of 2011, but he decided that instead of playing a year at BYU and then going on his mission, he would wait half a year until he turned 19 mid way through the basketball season before leaving. Of course this meant that he would also come back midway through a basketball season, which he did this past December. Since then, Neilson has been practicing with the team while working on his strength and conditioning, and the 2013-14 season technically counted as a redshirt year for him even though he was not on campus the entire year. He will hope to make an immediate impact for the 2014-15 season as BYU looks to replace the production of Eric Mika, who has since left on his LDS mission after a fantastic freshman year.
At Mission Viejo High School
As a senior, Neilson averaged 15.3 points per game, 11.3 rebounds per game, and 5.0 blocks per game, while being to the MaxPreps Division II All-State Second team. As a junior, he averaged 9.0 points per game, 9.0 rebounds per game, and 4.5 blocks per game while being named the MVP of the Diablo Inferno Tournament.
Impact at BYU
While the 6-foot-10 Neilson will likely be playing center, with five players standing 6’10 or taller on BYU’s roster, it is possible that we could see Neilson get playing time as a stretch 4, especially before Jamal Aytes becomes eligible.
Neilson is a sweet shooting mobile big man who, if he gets strong enough to compete along the frontline, could see some playing time as BYU searches for some offense in the post. However, if Corbin Kaufusi is as good as advertised and Nate Austin can stay out of foul trouble, it might be tough for Neilson to get too many minutes.
It will be interesting to see how Dave Rose utilizes his big men this season.