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BYU basketball player previews: A finally healthy Jamal Aytes looks to salvage his career

With more competition for minutes this season, will Aytes be able to overcome the injury bug and emerge as an energy player off the bench?

NCAA Basketball: Adams State at Brigham Young Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Jamal Aytes has played 26 college basketball games over the past three seasons. He’s also had three ankle surgeries in that time. After a brief stint at UNLV in the Fall of 2013, he transferred to BYU in the middle of the 2013-14 season. He became eligible to play on December 20, 2014, but ended up sitting out the remainder of that season following one of those surgeries.

During his first eight games played in the 2015-16 season, Aytes looked to be a promising player, averaging 5.9 points per game in 14.8 minutes per game, highlighted by a total of 21 points over the three games in the Diamond Head Classic. However, his playing time diminished during the conference season to the point where he started receiving few to no minutes. After February 25th, he played just one minute the rest of the season. Additionally, Dave Rose moved him to the practice squad in late January as (now-retired) forward Jakob Hartsock began seeing more playing time.

As we later found out, Aytes was playing through injury last season, and according to Jay Drew of the Salt Lake Tribune, he “underwent ankle surgery, his third, in (the) offseason but is feeling great and expects to contribute a lot this season.” At 6 foot 6 and 225 pounds, his body and style of play strongly resembles former BYU player Charles Abouo with his physicality on both ends of the floor (but after all of his injuries he’ll never have the same explosiveness as Abouo).

Assuming Aytes is able to make it through a full season of basketball without any more injuries, he’ll need to show his versatility to play multiple positions in order to solidify a spot in the rotation. His best bet for playing time would be small forward if the Cougars deviate from their projected three-guard lineup of T.J. Haws, Nick Emery, and Elijah Bryant. Due to his limited ability to shoot the ball from outside of 5 to 10 feet, he’d likely fit better as a power forward, but Kyle Davis and Yoeli Childs will likely take up all of the minutes at that position. And with Davis and Eric Mika manning the low post, there won’t be nearly as much room for Aytes to operate as there was last year.

Offensively, a good comparison for Aytes if he panned out would be former Pepperdine forward Stacy Davis (the leading career scorer for the Waves). While Aytes could use his strength to draw a lot of free throws, he is only a 44% shooter from the charity stripe in his college career. As a fourth-year junior, this might be the last chance for Jamal Aytes to make a significant on-court impact in a BYU uniform. If he doesn’t see double figure minutes on a regular basis, it is very likely that he will play next season elsewhere as a graduate transfer.