BYU basketball received a late commitment from an under-the-radar prospect on Tuesday evening when 2016 guard Colby Leifson agreed to sign on for the upcoming season during an on-campus visit with his family.
Leifson, a 6-foot-4 sharpshooter from Atlanta, caught the BYU coaching staff’s attention after a strong showing on the summer AAU circuit. He also received offers from High Point, Wofford, Tennessee Tech, Gardner Webb and several Division II programs.
With the beginning of fall term just weeks away, this is pretty late in the game to be adding scholarship players, but the Cougars have been scrambling to fill several vacancies on their guard line after a few unexpected transfers. The North Gwinnett High School product had already received his mission call to Brazil and was scheduled to leave in September. With his commitment to BYU, he will now defer his mission until after the 2016-17 season.
The timing works out nicely for head coach Dave Rose. Leifson will slide into the open 2016-17 scholarship left by Jordan Chatman’s sudden departure, giving BYU additional guard depth that they sorely need. He’ll then leave for his mission, with his scholarship coming off the ledger for two season in which the Cougars have a serious scholarship crunch. And then he’ll return for the 2019-20 season, when (as of now) BYU has five scholarships available.
Leifson is a solid pickup for BYU, particularly at this late stage. He’s not a game-changer by any stretch of the imagination, but he does bring one elite-level skill to the table: the guy can flat-out shoot. He burst onto BYU’s radar last month after dropping nine (yes, NINE) 3-pointers in the first half of an AAU game at the Battle Of The South tournament, with an assistant coach in attendance.
Despite being termed the #ATLJimmer by at least one Twitter user, if you look at his tape, Leifson’s best BYU comparison is probably as a poor man’s Zac Seljaas. He’s an equally deadly knockdown shooter, particularly in spot-up situations — and while his release isn’t quite as quick as Seljaas’, it’s more than sufficient. The key difference between the two is that Leifson lacks Seljaas’ size and length, which makes him less versatile as a defender. (Zac guarded four spots for the Cougars last season, primarily because of his impossibly long arms.)
But regardless of the differences, the similarities are what have likely inspired Rose and company to extend a last-minute offer. BYU can never have enough deep threats, and Leifson brings that in spades. I mean, just watch this...
Leifson figures to play a limited role off the bench for the Cougars as a freshman. The vast majority of guard minutes will likely be locked down by Nick Emery, Elijah Bryant, TJ Haws and LJ Rose, but there are probably 10-15 minutes per game available for either Leifson or fellow freshman Steven Beo. Both players are known for their prodigious shooting, so the competition for that limited amount of playing time should be interesting to watch.