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BYU Basketball Player Preview: Can Corbin Kaufusi keep improving?

The highly athletic post player was just gaining confidence in his game. Will that continue in his sophomore year?

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the high scoring of the BYU basketball team last season, there was something that was sorely lacking in the form of solid post play for most of the season. The Cougars were going to lean heavily on Nate Austin, but when he went down with a hamstring injury it forced the team to try to find help anywhere else.

For awhile, it was pretty rocky. Many players showed flashes, but then BYU finally found a solution in Corbin Kaufusi, the former football player who became a basketball prospect after he unexpectedly grew four inches on his mission.

Kaufusi frequently looked overwhelmed during his time on the court early in the season — like he wasn't quite sure where to be or what to do. But as he gained more experience, the big man began to learn from those early mistakes and the quality of his play (and coach Dave Rose's trust in him) increased exponentially. During an eight-game winning streak late in the 2014-15 season, Kaufusi averaged over 21 minutes a game, going for almost 5 points and 5 rebounds per game — and those numbers don't necessarily unveil the full extent of his impact on the floor.

So what will a whole off-season of focusing exclusively on basketball do for Kaufusi's game?

Hopefully, it will give him even more confidence and certainty in his actions. There were times where he would get lost defensively, or move out of position to attempt to block a shot he wasn't going to be able to block, causing fouls or offensive rebound opportunities for the opposing team.

It should also help him understand when to use his athleticism to actually go try to block a shot and when to just show and be a defensive presence. If he could cut down his foul rate a little bit — he averaged a foul almost every four minutes last year — he could really take a step forward and start affecting the game in a big way.

Another big positive that Kaufusi brings is his athleticism.  He has good feet and moves well laterally. This allows him to take up more space defensively ,and also helps him dive to the basket in pick-and-roll situations offensively. He has a very explosive first jump which allows him to finish through contact and also ends with some ferocious dunks and blocked shots.

With some of the additions made to BYU's frontline for the upcoming season, Corbin may not be asked to do as much as he was last year. This should allow him to focus more on playing good defense and rebounding and picking his spots offensively. With other players around that will score from the post and be able to rebound, it will allow him to just focus on the skills he already has and not try to make plays that he doesn't need to (or can't) make.

With one season and a full summer under his belt, the 6-foot-10 center should hopefully be able to continuing making significant improvements that will really help the Cougars' defense and provide some much-needed scoring from the post.