By many accounts, Kyle Davis had a very productive and consistent junior season for BYU after showing flashes of potential at his first two schools, Southern Utah and Utah State.
Davis averaged 11 rebounds per 40 minutes played, equaling Corbin Kaufusi’s output despite being three inches shorter, 25 pounds lighter and significantly less athletic than fellow big man. In addition, he gave BYU a reliable low-post scorer that they had desperately needed since Eric Mika’s departure for his LDS mission, scoring in double figures in 28 of 37 games. He also posted the third best defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) of any player on the team, behind only Kyle Collinsworth and Kaufusi.
Despite all of these positive contributions, his playing time steadily decreased as the season progressed. BYU simply was not as successful on offense when Davis shared time with Kaufusi or Nate Austin. Coach Dave Rose gave freshman sharpshooter Zac Seljaas more and more playing time, essentially playing a four-guard offense with only one post player. As a result, Davis saw fewer minutes, and a greater share of those minutes came as the center. It was most notable that in the last two games against Gonzaga, Davis played 15 and 13 minutes, while Seljaas played 33 and 32 minutes.
While Seljaas has left on his LDS Mission, BYU restocked the frontcourt with returned missionary Eric Mika (2013-14 WCC All-Freshman Team) and two four-star freshmen (6-foot-8 Yoeli Childs and 6-foot-10 Payton Dastrup), in addition to the return of Kaufusi, Braiden Shaw and Jamal Aytes. With so much talent on the roster, competition for minutes at the frontcourt positions should be fierce.
This creates some significant questions surrounding Davis and his role as he heads into his senior season, including:
- Now that he isn’t the only effective low post scorer on the roster with Eric Mika’s return, will Dave Rose be comfortable playing them together? (I wrote about this topic back in April.)
- Will a talented freshman small/power forward (namely Yoeli Childs) chip away at his minutes the way Seljaas did last year?
- Kaufusi will still be playing football for the first two months of the basketball season. Will Rose continue to use Davis as a backup center like he did at the end of last season?
Whether he is playing 15 minutes per game or 30 minutes per game, Kyle Davis should be an important piece for BYU as the team’s oldest and most experienced player. The Cougars lost their all-time leading rebounder in Kyle Collinsworth to graduation (in addition to Nate Austin, who was 12th all-time in that category), and Davis will be counted on to grab some of those rebounds, even if he isn’t utilized as much on offense.
While most of the buzz surrounding this Cougar team stems from the next three years of the "Lone Peak Three" (Mika, Nick Emery and T.J. Haws), Kyle Davis will be an important vocal leader on a team that will have only three players that have significant game experience at BYU when the season starts.