Many years have passed since BYU Basketball fans began their anticipation for the Fall of 2016, when the group of talented high school teammates dubbed "The Lone Peak Three" would first take the court together at BYU. Now that Eric Mika, Nick Emery, and T.J. Haws have all returned to Provo and are participating in summer workouts, expectations for the upcoming season are sky high.
It is inevitable that fans will be slightly disappointed at first, as it will take time for a new group of players to adjust to college basketball and to shake off the post-mission rust. When looking at the probable starters for the 2016-17 BYU team, the structure looks awfully similar to the 2013-14 Oklahoma Sooners team in terms of the eligibility and roles of the players. Here is a quick comparison:
|2016-17 BYU Starters||Position||Class||2013-14 Oklahoma Starters||Position||Class||PPG|
|T.J. Haws||Guard||Freshman||Jordan Woodard||Guard||Freshman||10.3|
|Nick Emery||Guard||Sophomore||Buddy Hield||Guard||Sophomore||16.5|
|Elijah Bryant||Guard||Sophomore||Isaiah Cousins||Guard||Sophomore||11.0|
|Kyle Davis||Forward||Senior||Cameron Clark||Forward||Senior||15.6|
|Eric Mika||Center||Sophomore||Ryan Spangler||Center||Sophomore||9.6|
The core four of Hield, Cousins, Woodard, and Spangler started 105 consecuitve games together (every game for three full seasons), and BYU's four underclassmen listed above could do the same barring injury or attrition. While the scoring averages might not be identical at each position for both teams, the balance on offense is fairly comparable.
When examining the development of those four underclassmen at Oklahoma, both in terms of individual and team results, it isn't too difficult to see the BYU players doing the same thing. In fact, it could be argued that Dave Rose has recruited more raw talent to his upcoming rosters than Lon Kruger ever did at Oklahoma the past few seasons.
|Player||Recruiting Class||ESPN 100 Ranking|
While BYU likely won't have a lottery pick on their roster such as Buddy Hield, they'll have a comparable talent level and will be much deeper in the frontcourt than Oklahoma was over the past few seasons (Dante Buford led the Sooners in bench scoring in 2015-16 with only 3.5 points per game). In addition to Childs and Dastrup, the Cougars will bring in 4-star forward Gavin Baxter in 2017 then return sharpshooter Zac Seljaas the following year. The roster is in place for BYU to field a more talented roster in spots 1 through 10 than Oklahoma ever had. A Final Four appearance might be too much to ask for the Cougars, but the development of the Sooners over the past three years could be feasibly replicated by BYU.
|Year||Record||Big 12||Final AP Poll||KenPom||NCAA Tournament|
|2013-14||23-10||12-6||#21||#33||5-seed, lost in Round of 64 vs. North Dakota State|
|2014-15||24-11||12-6||#13||#13||3-seed, lost in Sweet 16 vs. Michigan State|
|2015-16||29-8||12-6||#7||#7||2-seed, lost in Final Four vs. Villanova|
Oklahoma entered the 2013-14 season unranked and featured a lot of inexperienced players who were relative unknowns nationally, just like BYU will this year. We will have to wait and see just how great this young core of BYU freshmen and sophomores can be, but this is without a doubt the most exciting time to be a BYU Basketball fan since the post-Jimmer Fredette era began in 2011.