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Preview of BYU Basketball’s 2021-2022 Roster

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BYU v Boise State Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

With Seneca Knight in the fold, BYU’s 2021-2022 roster is set, barring any unforeseen movement. Teams are normally allotted 13 scholarships, but BYU has 14 players under scholarship since Alex Barcello returned and took advantage of the NCAA rule of returning seniors not counting against the scholarship limit.

I said this after Te’Jon Lucas committed two months ago and I believe it more so now — this will be the best BYU team since Jimmer graduated a decade ago. BYU has experience, depth, size, shooting and athleticism on this team. I expect Caleb Lohner to take a huge leap and be a All-WCC player and Gideon George to also take a leap and play at a All-Conference level.

BYU has had some great teams the last decade. The Yoeli/TJ/Toolson trio of three years ago was a great team and Tyler Haws was on memorable teams, but I believe this team has more upside and more pieces than other teams in the last 10 years.

Below is what the roster is expected to look like when the season tips off November 9 and what I think the rotation will likely be during the season. These are the 16 guys that will be part of the roster, although BYU may add one more walk on.

Departures

  • Matt Haarms — Graduation, Pro contract in Germany
  • Brandon Averette — Graduation, Pro contract in Cyprus
  • Kolby Lee — Transfer, Dixie State
  • Connor Harding — Transfer, UVU
  • Wyatt Lowell — Transfer, Snow College
  • Jesse Wade (walk on) — Retired from basketball
  • Cam Pearson (walk on) — Transfer
  • Brandon Warr (walk on) — Left the team to focus on school
  • Townsend Tripple (walk on) — Mission

New Faces

  • Te’Jon Lucas; Redshirt Senior, Guard — Transfer, Milwaukee and Illinois

Lucas committed to BYU exactly two months ago, but his addition should not be forgotten. Lucas will be a sixth-year senior this season and have one year of eligibility remaining. He’s been one of the more versatile guards nationally the past two seasons at Milwaukee. Last season he averaged 14.9 points, 5.8 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.1 steals on 39% shooting from the field and 28% from deep. Lucas is a 6-foot-2 guard that has played primarily point guard. Prior to Milwaukee, Lucas played two seasons at Illinois where he started in 34 of his 60 games for the Illini and averaged 5.7 points and 3.2 assists as a sophomore while shooting 48%.

Lucas will start alongside Alex Barcello to form one of the most experienced backcourts in the country and give BYU an additional play maker that can score and create for others.

  • Seneca Knight; Junior, Guard/Forward — Transfer, San Jose State and LSU

If Knight is eligible to play this season — and I think he will be — then he adds a dynamic scoring presence to BYU. He’s had three games in his career with over 30 points and his 6-foot-7 frame will add much needed size in the backcourt and on the wing. You can read more about Knight in his commitment piece from earlier today.

  • Fousseyni Traore; Freshman, Forward — 2021 Signee

Traore is a native of Mali and prepped at nearby Wasatch Academy. He’s a little undersized for a power forward at 6-foot-7, but he has long arms and is strong with a thick build. BYU is a bit thin in the frontcourt, so Traore will get a chance to crack the rotation. He gained valuable experience playing for Mali’s U19 FIBA team this summer against some of the top young talent in the world and more than held his own.

  • Atiki Ally Atiki; Freshman, Center — 2021 Signee

A 6-foot-11 big man from Tanzania, Atiki has one of the highest ceilings on the team. Atiki committed to BYU over offers from Oklahoma, West Virginia, and San Diego State. Atiki is raw and new to the game of basketball but he is an extremely athletic big man with a 7-foot-2 wingspan. Chris Burgess is a great big man developer, and if he can unlock Atiki’s potential then Atiki will be a huge player for BYU during his career.

  • Trey Stewart; Freshman, Guard — 2019 Signee back from mission

Stewart initially signed with UVU out of high school but then switched to BYU after Mark Pope and his staff were hired in Provo. Stewart is an athletic guard from American Fork High School that can finish above the rim. He’ll have a tough time cracking the rotation this year, but I think he will be a contributor in another year or two at point and shooting guard.

  • Nate Hansen; Freshman, Guard — 2019 Signee back from mission

Hansen is the last scholarship player that committed to Dave Rose and the prior staff. Hansen will have a tough time getting playing time right off his mission, but he’ll have a chance to develop for a year and get back in shape post mission.

  • Jeremy DowDell; Freshman, Guard — 2019 Commit back from mission (walk on)

Dowdell is a great addition as a walk on. He was the leading prep scorer in Utah in 2019, averaging 27 points a game and breaking the Utah State record with 117 made threes. He chose BYU over scholarship offers from Washington State and Air Force, which you don’t often see for a walk on. I see DowDell as a Trevin Knell type player during his BYU career.

  • Casey Brown; Freshman, Guard — 2019 Commit back from mission (walk on)

The Pleasant Grove graduate is back from his mission and will join the roster this season. He committed to the previous staff as a walk on, but the current staff held his spot after his mission.

Returnees

  • Alex Barcello; Senior, Guard

We know about AB. He is the heart and soul of this team and decided to take advantage of the free COVID year to run it back. Barcello is BYU’s unquestioned leader and currently the best player as a 5th-year senior. Barcello returning was the biggest addition for BYU.

  • Richard Harward; Redshirt Junior, Center

“Big Rich” had his moments last year after sitting out a season following his transfer from UVU. Harward will be one of two main bigs alongside Gavin Baxter and will be a regular part of the rotation with his big 6-foot-11 body. Harward is a good rebounder, and if he can improve his free throw shooting then can become a more reliable offensive player.

  • Gideon George; RS Junior, Forward

George showed flashes of his high ceiling last season. He is long and athletic and may be BYU’s best perimeter defender. He participated in Nigeria’s Olympic Camp this summer and received high praise from current Warriors assistant and former NBA head coach Mike Brown, who called George a prototypical NBA wing.

  • Gavin Baxter; Junior, Forward

A shoulder and knee injury cut Baxter’s last two seasons short, but there is no denying the 6-foot-9 Provo native is an elite athlete when healthy. A healthy Baxter can switch positions 1-5 and finish above the rim with his 7-foot-3 wingspan. A healthy Baxter will be key to BYU’s success this year. If he or Harward gets hurt then BYU will be thin and inexperienced in the frontcourt.

  • Caleb Lohner; Sophomore, Forward

Lohner is the number one reason why I am so high on this team. He showed elite rebounding ability as a freshman and has a NBA body with great athleticism. He found his three-point shot during WCC play, and I expect him to be the first or second best player on the team as the season progresses. I will not be surprised if Lohner averages 14+ points, 8 rebounds and shoots close to 40% from three this year.

  • Spencer Johnson; RS Sophomore, Guard

Johnson came to BYU from SLCC after stops at Weber State and UVU. He was my surprise player last year and was a consistent piece in the rotation. Johnson was one of BYU’s top perimeter defenders and a capable three-point shooter, shooting 41% from three and averaging 5 points per game. Johnson will remain a part of the rotation.

  • Trevin Knell; Sophomore, Guard

Knell is arguably BYU’s best catch-and-shoot shooter. He averaged 6 points a game and shot a blistering 45% from deep. He had a season-high 20 points versus Gonzaga in the WCC championship where he knocked down 5 shots from three. BYU has a deep guard line, but Knell has to be a part of the rotation and get consistent minutes.

  • Hunter Erickson; Freshman, Guard

Erickson didn’t play any meaningful minutes, but he is my choice as a breakout candidate. Now with a year under his belt returned from his mission I think he will showcase his athleticism and find a way to get minutes.

What will the rotation look like?

BYU has 16 guys on the roster, and odds are BYU probably won’t want to go more than 10 deep. You can lock in Barcello, Lucas and Lohner as three of the starters, and then George/Knight and Baxter/Harward in the other two spots. Those 7 will get a lot of minutes, regardless of who starts.

I think Knell has to be the eighth guy with his shooting, and then you round out the rotation with Spencer Johnson if you go 9 guys deep. If BYU want to go deeper, I think Hunter Erickson will make a jump and you add Fousseyni Traore as an undersized big. Traore is more developed at this point than Atiki, so I think he will see more minutes early. I have a hard time seeing Trey Stewart, Nate Hansen, Jeremy DowDell and Casey Brown cracking the rotation.

Baxter and Harward are the only two experienced bigs, so I think BYU will go smaller at times this year to get the best players on the court. I think Lohner, George and Knight will all play the 4 in stretches this year in order to get guys like Knell and Johnson on the court more, and I think Lohner will play the 5 in spurts. He played the 5 at times at the end of the season and he has the rebounding ability at 6-foot-8 to play the 5 in a small ball lineup. This won’t be the starting lineup, but a five of Barcello, Lucas, George, Knight and Lohner could be an elite offensive lineup with shooters all over the floor and just enough size to hold its own defensively.

All things considered, Mark Pope and the staff have a deep lineup to play with and an offseason ahead to tinker around and figure out the best guys to put on the floor.