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BYU Basketball: Can Kyle Davis and Eric Mika co-exist in 2016-17?

The last time BYU had two high-volume scorers in the frontcourt was in 2011-12 with Noah Hartsock and Brandon Davies. Will Davis and Mika be able to have the same on-court chemistry that Hartsock and Davies had?

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

On November 30, 2013, BYU played Utah State in a neutral site game where then-Aggies forward Kyle Davis squared off against some of his future BYU Cougar teammates, including center Eric Mika.  Those two players had eerily similar stat lines in the game: Davis scored 16 points and 9 rebounds on 7/11 shooting, while Mika scored 15 points and 9 rebounds on 7/12 shooting.

This November, the two players will be wearing the same uniforms, both having played one season for BYU with similar results.  Both started out their seasons regularly scoring in double figures but finished the season playing a smaller role in the offense as the focus shifted to the perimeter.  Regardless, they still finished their seasons putting up nearly identical numbers.

Player Season MPG PPG RPG FG% FT%
Eric Mika 2013-14 25.6 11.8 6.4 52.7 61.7
Kyle Davis 2015-16 27.1 11.9 7.5 54.5 60.3

While Davis is more of a power forward and Mika is a center, both played alongside other frontcourt players who were infrequent shooters that were primarily in the game for defense and rebounding.  Here is an illustration of the shot frequency of Mika and Davis compared to the big men they played alongside:

Player Season FG attempts per 40 minutes
Eric Mika 2013-14 12.5
Nate Austin 2013-14 4.5
Josh Sharp 2013-14 3.5
Luke Worthington 2013-14 4.1
Kyle Davis 2015-16 12.8
Corbin Kaufusi 2015-16 9.6
Nate Austin 2015-16 4.7

Other than Corbin Kaufusi in 2015-16 (who took many shot attempts off offensive rebounds, though he did start making a few jump hooks), Mika and Davis have only played alongside non-shooting forwards at BYU who primarily set screens at the top of the key and then crashed in for the rebound when a shot was taken.  So it will be a big adjustment for both of them to play alongside another big man who also wants the ball fed into the post to score.

2011-12 was the last time BYU played two high volume scorers together in the frountcourt.  During that seaosn, Brandon Davies and Noah Hartsock were able to work well together because they both had diverse skill sets.   Hartsock had a deadly face-up jumper from 15-18 feet that spaced the defense out, while Davies was long and athletic enough to attack from the perimeter while displaying a decent perimeter jump shot as well.

Neither Davis or Mika has shown the ability to score from outside five feet on a consistent basis, and there will only be so many interior shots available on next year's team with a talented guard line led by Nick Emery, T.J. Haws, and Elijah Bryant.  And when one of Davis or Mika gets the ball inside, it will be easier for the other player's defender to come over and provide help defense from a shorter distance away.

While the two of them playing together may cause offensive stagnation for BYU, they could be very effective rotating in for one another in the case of foul trouble.  As they are the two most talented frontcourt players on next year's team, they will likely be given a chance at the beginning of the season to see if they can mesh.  If not, expect to see more of stretch forward Jakob Hartsock or undersized but dynamic freshman forward Yoeli Childs playing alongside Mika or Davis.