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BYU basketball: Eric Mika hires agent, will stay in NBA Draft

BYU loses star big man to the NBA

NCAA Basketball: Brigham Young at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

BYU announced Tuesday night that star big man Eric Mika will remain in the NBA Draft:

Eric’s decision came days after his participation in the NBA Draft Combine, and one day before the national signing period ends for the 2017 basketball signing class. BYU will be able to sign one more player to fill Mika’s vacant scholarship.

Mika averaged 20.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in 34 games as a sophomore this season. He also came up with a 29 point, 11 rebound, two block performance to knock off No. 1 Gonzaga.

What does this mean for BYU? Obviously, Eric Mika is BYU’s best talent — no question about that. He has a chance to be picked in the NBA draft and fulfill his dream of playing in the NBA. Even if the NBA doesn’t work out, he’ll get paid overseas playing basketball. Not a bad life.

Looking ahead, BYU basketball may not be in as bad as shape as it appears on the surface. Granted, BYU’s ceiling would be highest with Eric Mika. His performance at The Kennel helped knock off 29-0 Gonzaga.

Despite Mika’s greatness, however, BYU had one of its worst offensive seasons of the Dave Rose era. BYU’s offensive efficiency rating was its worst since 2012, the last time BYU’s offense ran through big men (Brandon Davies and Noah Hartsock).

Rose’s teams have best performed with guard-centric play. The last time BYU made the NCAA tournament, freshman Corbin Kaufusi was the primary big man. He wasn’t even supposed to play basketball until he grew 4 inches on his mission.

BYU’s offense will now have the opportunity to run through its guards and have one competent scoring big man — Yoeli Childs. Despite being BYU’s 5th scoring option, Childs still managed to average 9 points and 8 rebounds a game as a true freshman. Those numbers are sure to increase with another year of development and a more prominent role.

BYU was at times handcuffed and uncreative offensively in the halfcourt. Throwing the ball into Mika was an easy (and often effective) solution, but ball movement suffered as a result. St. Mary’s had an easy time game planning and clamping down on BYU’s uninspiring half-court offense.

Losing Mika hurts, but Dave Rose and the staff will have the opportunity to play into Rose’s strengths by relying on the play of TJ Haws, Nick Emery, Yoeli Childs, Elijah Bryant, Zac Seljaas and company.

We’ll have a more in-depth breakdown of BYU’s 2017-2018 outlook and roster after Wednesday’s end to the signing period.

In the meantime, best of luck to Eric as he pursues his NBA dream!