Underclassmen leading the way for BYU basketball, and that’s good

BYU basketball’s roster for the 2016-17 season features only five seniors and juniors. The rest of the 15-man roster are all underclassmen – and that’s a good thing.

Dave Rose and the BYU basketball coaching staff have tapped into a fountain of youth this season, focusing on the sophomores and freshmen in the lineup. With a roster like that, they have no choice but to focus on the underclassmen.

The real questions are whether this strategy is working and how long it will work.

Underclassmen this Season

Judging strictly from statistics, this presumable 20-win team is using its youth well.

The top three players in points per game are all underclassmen. Nick Emery and TJ Haws hover around 14 per game and Eric Mika leads the way with 20.5.

Mika also leads the way in rebounds with 9.6 per game with Yoeli Childs right behind him at 8.3.

Emery and Haws also lead the team in assists.

All of these team leaders are underclassmen. Emery and Mika are both sophomores, while Haws and Childs represent the freshmen class.

In fact, when running though the stat lines of each of the players on BYU’s roster, there are only two categories that are led by an upperclassmen.

Senior L.J. Rose leads in assists and senior Kyle Davis – who is done for the year – leads in field goal percentage.

Future Implications

Dave Rose is about to add a 12th consecutive year to his streak of 20+ win seasons. Though a full third of the roster is upperclassmen, it is the freshmen and sophomores that deserve the credit for the season they are having.

Considering that NCAA rules keep players in college at least two years, all the freshmen will return next season – and luckily for the Cougars – the sophomores will likely return as well.

Mika is the Cougar most likely to be drafted and leave BYU basketball early, but I don’t think that’s coming this season. Another season to polish his defense and mid-range game, Mika could easily become a lottery pick.

So what does this mean for BYU basketball?

It means consistency.

Assuming all the current underclassmen stay the full four years, 10 members of the current team will play together for three full seasons. Talk about team chemistry and brotherhood.

As these players develop, this team could become a power in the next two years. I would not be surprised to see them battle it out with Gonzaga for the West Coast Conference title during this time either.

This season has been a frustrating one. But, a young team will always go through some growing pains. But rest assured, BYU basketball fans, next season will be a good one.

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