It's been more than five years since BYU didn't have a prodigious volume scorer leading its attack. The run obviously began with Jimmer Fredette's flashy offensive wizardry and segued effortlessly into Tyler Haws' more understated brilliance. But with Haws now graduated, the Cougars now face a question they haven't had to answer in quite some time: Who's the next great Provo scoring machine? Or is it even realistic to expect someone step into that role?
Enter senior guard Chase Fischer.
It's no secret that coach Dave Rose likes to play a fast tempo, and the byproduct of that approach is a whole lot of shots. But with Haws' team-leading 15 field goal attempts per game now up for grabs, someone is going to have to get ready to launch. The loquacious West Virginia native appears to be the heir apparent — if only for a single season.
Fischer is well-suited to the task. He's a dead-eye sharpshooter who's already proven himself to be one of the best long-range marksmen in school history. During his junior season, his first with the Cougars, he connected on 103 threes — only Jimmer Fredette had made more in a single season, with 124.
But Fischer isn't just a volume shooter — he's also deadly accurate. Those 103 makes came on a staggering 248 attempts, representing a red-hot 41.5 percent conversion rate. Only three other Cougars since 1995 have taken more than 200 threes in a season — and none of them have converted more than 40 percent of those looks. In short, no one in modern BYU history has taken and made as many threes in a season as Chase did last year.
So the guy can fill it up from deep, and that should continue to serve him very well as he becomes an even bigger focal point in Rose's triple-happy offense. But in order for a player to become a truly dangerous scorer, he needs to have a multi-faceted offensive game — or, in scout speak, be able to score at "multiple levels." Even the best long-range shooters need to present at least the appearance of an off-the-dribble threat, if only to keep defenders honest and prevent them for overplaying the outside shot.
Whether Fischer can become that kind of multi-dimensional scorer will be essential to his success in the lead role for the Cougars.There's no doubt he has one "level" locked down, but his short-range and mid-range games have been questionable in the past, which has made him relatively easy for a strong perimeter defender to disrupt. This hasn't been a huge problem to this point, as Chase has merely been a tertiary option behind Haws and Kyle Collinsworth. But with Collinsworth likely to continue to primarily fulfill a playmaking role for BYU, Fischer will need to be able to score consistently and in a variety of ways to be effective in Haws' old role.
To his credit, Fischer understands this, and he spent much of his summer working on improving his off-the-dribble game. We've seen promising flashes of improvement already in his limited preseason action. He definitely appears more confident handling the ball, and looks to beat his man with the bounce more often. When he does get into the paint, he's shown the ability to finish strong in traffic and even seems to be experimenting with a little in-between, "float" game that could provide an interesting wrinkle to keep defenses on their toes.
So he's doing all the right things. But can Chase Fischer really fill Tyler Haws' considerable shoes and become the next in a growing line of Cougar scoring machines? It's a tall task, and we won't know for sure until it either happens or it doesn't — but if there's anyone who's up to the challenge, I'd bet on the guy with the metaphorical rocket-launcher surgically attached to his right shoulder.
Fire at will, Chase. Fire at will.