Good DN piece today about BYU hoops transitioning from “AB’s team” to whatever it becomes. I LOVE Coach Pope’s aggression and enthusiasm. He acknowledges we are “young and small,” so how does he counter being overmatched physically? If it were BYU football, he would dumb it down and be passive…but this is Coach Pope, who says that he will use “tempo” and “pace” and “chaos” because It “makes us a more complicated.” I just felt my heart flutter…I think I’m in love…
In researching our new players, and talking to my buddy in the program, I’m getting this:
Rudi Williams is the real deal. He can score from all 3 areas: at the bucket, particularly using a wicked good euro-step to create separation and avoid shot blockers, mid-range, and from 3. Shot 45% from deep last year on high volume attempts–better than any BYU player, including AB. He shoots 3s off the dribble, spotting up, falling away, and probably while doing his homework. Dude can get his shot off, period. He looks like a really good player to me.
Waterman: I’m told he’s underrated, a very good shooter and MIGHT be a very good defender on the wing due to good mobility for a big and a preying mantis wingspan. Good ballhandler for his size.
Waterman improved throughout last season and was also very good from deep (career 44% from deep, and after a bad start last year was also 44% on high volume 3s in his last 13 games).
Robinson: high 4 star prospect and easy top 100 out of HS. Multiple big time P5 offers. Made the honor roll at Arkansas last year. Freakishly athletic. Bumpy start with one year at Texas A&M, transfers to Arkansas, now transfers to BYU. I can’t infer much from his stats because he played very limited minutes at both schools. What I DO know is that a top 100 prospect in HS will probably be good in college if he gets minutes. Arkansas had arguably the 2nd best recruiting class (after Duke) this year, signing THREE 5 star recruits; all 3 are projected “one and dones” and all 3 are 6’5"-6’7" guards–squeezing Robinson out of the rotation. Robinson finally has the chance to play big minutes, and we will see if he lives up to his hype out of HS.
RMs: I’m told that Hall looks the best of the 4 freshmen who could compete for minutes (Hall, Saunders, Moore and Toolson, probably in that order). Hall’s HS highlights look like a HS kid playing against middle school kids–didn’t look like elite competition. His AAU highlights were more interesting–less dunking on 5’10" kids who can’t jump, instead showing off a super strong ability to handle the ball in traffic, get to the rim against D1 level bigs, big time upper body strength, and able to get off his shot pretty much whenever he wants.
Braeden Moore: Moore played at Donda Academy, Kanye West’s “basketball factory” high school in Simi Valley, CA (in the news lately after West’s anti-semitic comments and news the school could be shut down). The team played some high level competition (barnstorming scheduling) and boasts several D1 recruits. Moore is 6’8" but played primarily on the perimeter. Very solid catch and shoot from deep (highlights show him doing that A LOT), routinely from 3-5 feet beyond the 3 pt line. The highlights I saw were a lot of the same thing, so I have no idea how he will play in traffic. Looks pretty skinny, but had a bunch of P5 offers, so he must be a player.
I was a fan of Lohner’s and of Erickson’s, but they never really developed as advertised, so good on Pope to move forward with new blood. George and Rudi are the only two seniors on this team. I guess we have a nucleus of Rudi, Fouss, SJ, George and Atiki (and Stewart??), but all those guys have to take a big step forward this year if we are going to be good. MANY question marks: can Atiki play without fouling? Will Hall or Stewart back up Rudi? Will Robinson be a good shooter or just a gunner? Will Waterman be a major difference maker on both ends, or just a minor role player? Will George show up EVERY night instead of half the time? Will SJ take advantage of his first chance to be a featured player instead of a solid backup? I think Rudi and Fouss will be consistently very good and occasionally brilliant. I think either George or Robinson needs to emerge as a BIG TIME difference maker for this team to be better than just average. We need a lot of things to fall into place to go dancing.
Pope has a big job on his hands turning all these new guys into a team. It would be a MAJOR accomplishment to finish 2nd in the WCC and to make the NCAA tournament this year, but I don’t think it’s out of the question. NO MATTER WHAT, I think it will be a fun team to watch (unlike a BYU team in another sport that shall remain unnamed).