Every team needs those “glue guys,” as some call them. In basketball, it is seven-time NBA champion Robert Horry, who averaged just 24 minutes per game. On the baseball field, it was pinch-hitting specialist Matt Stairs.
They are the players that do not make front-page headlines, get the gaudiest contracts or are showered with accolades. In fact, other players receive those things much due to the efforts of these types of players. These players are rarely even starters on their own teams. Every good team needs unsung heroes.
The 2020-2021 BYU basketball team has several of these selfless athletes.
Harward is an absolute physical force down in the paint at 6-foot-11, 255 pounds. He plays in spurts, averaging 16 minutes per game, and always brings the energy. On the surface, his 6.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per game may not look like much. When you dive deeper into his efficiency, it’s clear why Mark Pope loves his big center.
Looking at his stats averaged per 40 minutes, his 17.2 points per 40 minutes is fourth-best on the team. His 11.9 rebounds per 40 minutes is third-best on the squad, better than the likes of Matt Haarms and Alex Barcello. He certainly takes advantage of the time Pope gives him on the court, averaging a double-double per 40 minutes, one of only four Cougars on the roster to achieve that.
George arrived in Provo with much anticipation as a transfer from New Mexico JC who was named first team All-Western Junior College Athletic Conference. The 6-foot-6 forward has come on of late, racking up 19 points and 10 boards in BYU’s blowout win over Portland on February 4.
His per-40-minute numbers rival those of Harward. He too averages a double-double in that span, with 16.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per 40 minutes. He also has two real double-doubles on the season, the one mentioned against Portland and before that on December 2 against St. John’s, George collected 13 points and a whopping 15 rebounds.
The Nigeria native’s rebounding skills have come in handy and Pope has done well to put him in spots where his skills are most needed, despite being 10th in minutes played per game.
Knell has started six times in 22 games but still flies under the radar. The 6-foot-5 sophomore is coming off of a solid showing against Loyola Marymount, collecting eight points, two rebounds and a steal in just 16 minutes of action. This came after he posted a near career high of 15 points in their win against Pacific. He also owns the best three-point percentage on the team for someone not named Alex Barcello, at 42.9 percent.
He is averaging 14 points per 40 minutes, eighth on the team. He has shown the ability to score and score quickly when needed.
BYU will not get far in the NCAA Tournament without these role players stepping up in a big way. Other players have made their mark too. In order for BYU to advance in the tournament, they need to be much better than just their five starters and thus far, Mark Pope’s Cougars have shown they are more than capable.