Frank Bartley IV was a surprise commitment of the 2013 class and pledged to BYU after being all-but-committed to Auburn. We then learned the story of his family being displaced from New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, moving to Baton Rouge where Frank began to succeed on the court.
Bartley helped his team to a 1A Louisiana state title and once earned 1A MVP before moving to California for his final season to get his name on more recruiting radars.
He arrived at BYU with a Division-I ready physique at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds. His skill set seemed to lend itself well to defense and running the floor in Dave Rose's up-tempo offense.
Bartley began the 2013-14 season firmly entrenched in the rotation as a 20-minute-per-night player. In his sixth collegiate game, Frank played 26 minutes, scoring 11 points and grabbing 4 rebounds in a big neutral-site win over Texas.
That began a stretch where Bartley played at least 18 minutes in 8 of 9 games. His emphatic dunk against Utah State came in a 14 point, 5 rebound effort.
But his role quickly diminished after BYU lost four consecutive road games, including the conference-opening trip to Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine. Despite posting 6 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists in 18 minutes against LMU, Bartley became a casualty in a much-needed shakeup as Anson Winder eventually and rightfully took over a more prominent role. BYU finished WCC regular-season play 13-3 from that point.
If there were problems in Bartley's game that led to his push to the bench, it was likely that he wasn't making threes (3-for-12 in the seven games capped by the Pepperdine loss) or free throws (a horrid 51.6% season average). He saw spot duty the rest of the season until Kyle Collinsworth's injury, not even appearing in BYU's 3 OT marathon at Portland.
So headed into a 2014-15 season with a roster bursting at the seams, what can Bartley do to earn back a spot in the rotation? It would seem the senior Winder is on track to be a starter, especially early on with Collinsworth working back into game shape.
Added to the guard mix are freshmen Jake Toolson and Jordan Chatman, both 6-foot-5 and heralded high school players to boot, and Chase Fischer, the shooting-guard transfer from Wake Forest.
Bartley's best shot at rotation minutes would be to prove to coaches he can play point guard, something he did relatively often in high school. Fischer is best suited to play off the ball, and it really would be nice to see Collinsworth not have to run the point. Chatman could be a legitimate 1/2 combo guard, and Toolson is a definite shooting guard.
There doesn't seem to be a true point guard on the roster. So why Bartley? First, within his role, he takes care of the ball. Bartley turned the ball over once in every 25 minutes of time on the floor last season (or 1.6 turnovers per 40 minutes). I certainly wouldn't expect that number to stay the same if given primary ball-handling duties, but it does show he can be very responsible. That's a great number. In on-ball situations, I don't recall Bartley ever looking like he shouldn't handle the ball.
Second, Bartley is probably the most underrated passer on the team. The dimes he threw in high school displayed above-average passing skill and vision. With a year under his belt, one would think he would an advantage over Chatman, who is returning from a mission and recovering from an injury. I think Bartley has the skills. If he is given the opportunity, he may well prove to be a responsible facilitator.
His other angle, of course, would be defense and rebounding. He certainly has the size and athleticism to do both at an above-average level. Defense earns anyone a ticket on the floor, which is part of why Winder's role increased.
Bartley's rebounding was already at that level last season, nabbing 2.1 rebounds per game in only 10.9 minutes -- or 7.8 rebounds per 40 minutes from the guard line. That's kinda good.
In the perfect-for-Bartley scenario I'm building here, you can envision Bartley (who proves himself to be a responsible point guard and adequate facilitator) on the floor with Winder, locking down guards on defense. If he's on the floor with Collinsworth and Nate Austin, he becomes part of a rebounding behemoth.
I don't envision a time soon when Bartley's shooting gets him on the floor or becomes something BYU needs. But responsible with the ball, driving and creating, and facilitating for guys like Fischer, Tyler Haws, and Collinsworth? If Bartley were to rise to this task, he could separate himself from the other eight guards on the roster as having a unique set of skills no other Cougar can offer.
It's just one of the many, many possibilities for Dave Rose to explore and manage in a loaded roster full of youth, talent, and unsure roles.