(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
After earning the Mountain West Conference regular season title and a trip to the NCAA tournament for the third-straight year in 2009, BYU men’s basketball will look to make it four in a row in 2009-10. Head coach Dave Rose returns nine members from last year’s squad—including four starters—and welcomes four talented newcomers as the Cougars gear up for another MWC race.
BYU finished 25-8 overall and 12-4 in the MWC, sharing the regular season title with New Mexico and Utah. The Cougars trailed by two games with three to play but won out to share the title with the Lobos and Utes.
The biggest blow to BYU’s lineup is the loss of two-time first-team all-MWC wing Lee Cummard, a multi-tooled player who led the team in scoring and was second in rebounding and assists. Despite the loss of Cummard, the Cougars return an experienced and talented group that under the leadership of Rose aims to contend for the 2009-10 MWC championship and postseason success.
In four years at BYU Rose has built an impressive Division I coaching resume. His 97-34 record is the best four-year start in program history and he is the first to lead the Cougars to three-straight league titles since 1932 to 1934. In addition to the three conference titles in the last three seasons, Rose has coached the Cougars into the top 25 in each of the last three years and led BYU to the NCAA Tournament each year. At 51-13 (.797) in the MWC, Rose is the owner of the highest winning percentage in conference history and is a two-time coach of the year. He and his wife Cheryl continue to involve themselves in numerous community efforts, including the Children with Cancer Christmas Foundation. Despite his own battle with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor cancer this summer, Rose will be back on the sideline in hopes of leading the Cougars to a fourth-straight MWC title.
Among the four returning starters, Rose welcomes back his starting backcourt in first-team All-MWC point guard Jimmer Fredette and MWC All-Defensive Team member Jackson Emery. Fredette was second on the team in scoring (16.2) and free throw percentage (.847) and led the team in assists (4.1) and steals (50). Known for his crossover dribble and playmaking abilities, Fredette was ranked in the top 10 in six statistical categories in the MWC last season and earned USBWA All-District honors. Emery, a sophomore who came off the bench in 2005-06, started in 32 of 33 games last season and averaged 7.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists while adding 47 steals. He was often assigned to guard the opposition’s best player and earned a reputation for his hustle and gritty effort.
At the four BYU is equally experienced with the return of senior Jonathan Tavernari, a two-time All-MWC Third Team honoree who is currently playing with the Brazilian National Team for the second-straight summer. Last season he averaged 15.7 points per game while leading the team in rebounding (7.2) and made threes (85) and finishing second in steals (49). Tavernari posted a team-best seven double-doubles and set a single-season record for consecutive games with a made three (22).
Senior Chris Miles returns to man the middle after starting every game in 2008-09. He averaged 7.1 points and 4.0 rebounds and rejected 26 shots. He shot 57.0 percent from the field to lead the team and had two of his best games against MWC Player of the Year Luke Nevill of Utah.
In addition to the four returning starters, Rose returns the first four players off the 2008-09 bench and a key contributor from the 2007-08 squad. Guards Lamont Morgan, Jr., and Charles Abouo are back after leading the bench players in scoring a year ago. Morgan, a senior, provided relief at the point and Abouo, a sophomore brought explosiveness to the wing. Abouo is gaining valuable experience this summer playing for the Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) National Team. Sophomores Noah Hartsock and James Anderson backed up the four and five and developed as offensive threats and shot blockers as the season progressed. Michael Loyd, Jr., redshirted in 2008-09 but was a valuable backup the year before as a combo guard.
Freshmen Tyler Haws (6-5, G), Brandon Davies (6-9, F) and Brock Zylstra and junior Logan Magnusson (6-6, F) round out the squad. Haws was a two-time Mr. Basketball for the state of Utah at Lone Peak High School while Davies earned first-team all-state honors at Provo High School. Zylstra redshirted in 2006-07 before serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New Zealand. Magnusson prepped at Wasatch High School where he won two state titles and comes to BYU from Salt Lake Community College where he was a member of the 2009 NJCAA Division I national championship team.
With the return first-team All-MWC performer Jimmer Fredette and two experienced backups in Lamont Morgan, Jr., and Michael Loyd, Jr., the Cougars will be very deep at the point guard position. After playing the role of sixth man as a freshman, Fredette emerged as one of the best players in the league in 2008-09 and was the only sophomore to earn All-MWC honors. He led the team in assists (4.1 per game) and steals (50) and was second in scoring (16.2 points per game), made threes (52) and free throw percentage (.847). He proved to be one of the best playmakers in the conference, finishing third in the MWC in assists and eighth in assist/turnover ratio. With his ability to shoot from the outside, finish at the rim, get to the line and shoot a high percentage once there, Fredette was also one of the league’s best scorers, finishing fifth overall. In addition to his all-conference nod, Fredette earned USBWA All-District honors and was named to the MWC All-Tournament Team. Morgan stepped in ready to play from day one last season, providing quickness and leadership off the bench. After redshirting in 2007-08 after two years at Saddleback Community College, Morgan averaged 3.6 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game in 2008-09. Loyd, a combo guard who saw action at both the point and two guard as a freshman, will return to the game roster after redshirting in 2008-09. As a freshman in 2007-08, he helped the Cougars win the MWC regular season outright with a 14-2 league mark while averaging 2.2 points and 1.2 assists. Loyd has the ability to disrupt opposing teams on defense and push the ball on offense.
Despite the loss of two-time first-team All-MWC honoree Lee Cummard—BYU’s 10th all-time leading scorer—the wing is loaded with experience and youth that will look to fill the void left by the four-year starter. Junior Jackson Emery returns after starting 32 of 33 games in 2008-09 and earning MWC All-Defensive Team honors. After returning from a Church mission in the summer, Emery averaged 7.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists and often guarded the opposing team’s best perimeter player. With a year of starting and more time to get into top physical condition, Emery has the potential to make an even bigger impact in 2009-10. Explosive sophomore Charles Abouo will look to pick up some of the slack left by Cummard, having added experience with the Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) National Team this summer. Abouo showed flashes of his potential in 2008-09 averaging 2.9 points and 1.9 rebounds while shooting 42.9 percent on threes. Senior Jonathan Tavernari—a third-team All-MWC honoree in 2008 and 2009—could see more minutes on the wing in 2009-10. Tavernari has primarily played at the four during his BYU career but has gained valuable perimeter experience with the Brazilian National Team during the summer in 2008 and 2009. In seven games this summer he has averaged 13.9 points and shot 62.0 percent from the field and 61.1 percent from downtown, averaging 3.1 threes per game. Newcomers Tyler Haws and Logan Magnusson and returning redshirt Brock Zylstra will look to make an impact at the wing position as well. Haws concluded his high school career at Lone Peak in Alpine, Utah, as one of the most decorated prep players in the state’s history. He was named Mr. Basketball as a junior and senior and led Lone Peak to two state titles. Magnusson won two state titles at Wasatch High School and earned first-team all-state honors before playing one year at Dixie College. After serving a Church mission in British Columbia, the versatile forward helped Salt Lake Community College win the NJCAA Division I National Title. Zylstra redshirted for Rose in 2006-07 and proved to be a solid all-around player in practice. As a senior at Bonita High School in La Verne, Calif., he averaged 22 points and 12 boards and earned league MVP honors.
The Cougars welcome the return of starting center Chris Miles and sophomore James Anderson to man the center position. Miles—a senior and former two-time 4A State MVP out of Timpview High School in Provo—started all 33 games last season and averaged 7.1 points and 4.0 rebounds while blocking 26 shots. His offensive game improved as the season progressed as he scored in double-digits six times in the last six weeks of the season. Anderson will be entering his sophomore season after gaining valuable experience sharing backup duties with Gavin MacGregor in 2008-09. He averaged 2.5 points and 1.8 rebounds and shot 56.4 percent from the field and showed a knack for finishing inside. Despite limited playing time, Anderson showed the potential to be a shot-blocking force, turning back five shots in one game and three in another. The four-position is in good hands with Tavernari returning in hopes of becoming the first Cougar to win four conference titles. He was MWC Freshman of the Year when BYU won the title outright in 2007 and earned third-team honors the next two seasons as the Cougars made it three straight. With 202 career threes he is 12 away from claiming the school’s career record. He enjoyed his best season in a BYU uniform last year averaging 15.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, hitting 85 threes (38.1 percent from downtown) and registering 49 steals. Sophomore Noah Hartsock spelled Tavernari at the four in 2008-09 and saw action in the middle. After suffering an ankle injury early in the year, Hartsock found his groove late in the season. He helped the Cougars win a key game at San Diego State to stay alive in the conference race and had two of his best games in the MWC semifinals and in the NCAA Tournament. Athletic freshman Brandon Davies out of Provo High will give the coaching staff a nice option at the four or the five. Davies is used to winning, as he helped Provo claim two state titles. He earned all-state honors and will look to make an impact with the Cougars with his ability to run the floor and score inside. A versatile wing player, Magnusson has the skills and strength to contribute at the four spot as well.