Now that practice is less than a month away, it is time to look at the guards and possible guard lineups that the Cougars may use in the upcoming season. Guard play is especially important in Coach Rose's uptempo offensive system. Guards who can push the ball up the floor, keep the turnovers at bay, and space the floor through shooting are crucial to the overall success to the team.
#5 Kyle Collinsworth, 6-6, 215
We all know the importance of Kyle to the Cougars. He is one of the most athletic players on the team, can guard positions 1-4 on defense, scores, creates for others, and rebounds. Last season he was a stat stuffer, averaging 14 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. If BYU is going to have success, which includes winning the tough home games on the schedule, it is imperative that Kyle is healthy. Last season was ended by an ACL tear. While spending some time around the team this summer, I was able to ask around about the knee, and everyone said that he was doing well and should be ready to go in October for practices. Hopefully, this is a fact, and we will see a healthy, confident Kyle Collinsworth running the point for the Cougars. Even though he was very good last year, I hope to see his shooting improve. He shot .364 from three and .576 from the free throw line. If he could become a consistent shooting threat (.38+ from three and .70+ from the line), it would add a dangerous threat to the Cougar offense.
#3 Tyler Haws, 6-5, 200
Does Tyler Haws really need that much of a preview? We, and all the opponents, know exactly what Haws brings to the table. Elite mid-range and free throw shooting. A threat to score every time he touches the ball. A candidate to lead the nation in scoring this season. Haws' stat line from last season was 23.2 points (6th in the nation), 3.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1 steal per game. He shot .463 from the field, .404 from three, and .881 from the line in 2014. Once again, Haws will lead this team in scoring. He is an elite offensive player, the best in the conference, and possibly the country. For the BYU fan who is expecting a Jimmer-like senior year, you will probably be disappointed. Haws is not a ball-dominant player like Jimmer was. He is going to catch the ball on the wing, survey the court and try to get to his deadly mid-range or high post game (turn around jumper on the elbow). Even though the playing style is different, the result is similar. If Tyler can improve on that 23 points per game average, he could have a season reminding fans of Jimmer's 28.9 in 2011. Haws has a little more help offensively though (Collinsworth, Fischer, Bartley, etc.) so it is possible that Haws will not be relied upon nearly as much. But for the Cougars to be successful, he will have to score 20+ points in almost, if not every, game. He will most likely graduate as the school's leading scorer — he needs 655 points to pass Jimmer and will need to average around 22 points per game to meet this accomplishment. Enjoy watching one of the elite scorers in the country finish off his great BYU career.
#24 Frank Bartley IV, 6-3, 200
Bartley is easily one of the most electric players BYU has had in years. He brings an athleticism that is rarely seen in Provo. Frank averaged 3.9 points and 2.1 rebounds per game last season. I know this stat line is nothing to get too excited about, but when he did play he showed promises of being a very good player for the Cougars. His 14 points (and awesome dunk) against Utah State, 16 against Mount St. Mary's, 10 against Oregon, and 11 against Texas showed that he can put the ball in the basket. Now, many might wonder why you wouldn't play a guy who scored in double figures 5 times off the bench. The answer is he shot .370 from the floor, .333 from three, and only .516 from the line. He sometimes forced shots and didn't run the offense. He has the potential to be an elite defender for this team, so if he improves those numbers, then he will almost force Coach Rose to put him on the floor.
#1 Chase Fischer, 6-3, 195
Fischer can really shoot. I'm talking about a guy who has the ability to shoot from almost anywhere on the court. He will really benefit from playing alongside a playmaker like Collinsworth and an offensive threat like Haws. He is going to find himself shooting open threes and I would expect him to make about 45 percent of them. He is fairly athletic and can create his own shot. He runs the floor well and should get a good amount of shots due to spacing on fast break opportunities. I really look forward to seeing what he can bring to this team. There has been a lack of consistent shooting, besides Haws, especially in the three-point shooting (.355 last season as a team, the lowest since Jimmer). Hopefully a player of Fischer's talent can start to change that.
#20 Anson Winder, 6-3, 195
Anson had a solid junior year, and I really hope to see more of him this season. He scored in double figures 10 times and had averages of 6.5 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game. He is a great defender and a solid offensive player. He really emerged after Carlino was pulled from the starting lineup. He has starting experience, starting as a freshman and at the end of last season. I would expect Winder to be the player most likely to fill the missing production of Matt Carlino. He is a smart player who does not try to play outside of himself, which allows him to be successful in the BYU system. He is capable of scoring when needed, shutting down opposing guards, and running the offense in a pinch.
#23 Skyler Halford, 6-1, 180
Halford is kind of an enigma to me. I just can't figure him out. Sometimes he looked brilliant — he scored 28 points in his first start, then followed that up with 18 the next game. But other times he just totally disappeared. He ended up averaging 7 points on .431 shooting from the field, .845 from the line, but only .312 from three. When you are brought in to shoot the three, it is expected you shoot it a little better 31 percent. I, personally, would expect to see his minutes taken by Chase Fischer or Frank Bartley, but you never know. Hopefully, he has calmed down a little — at times he looked like he was playing much too fast — and is able to perform at a high level.
#25 Jordan Chatman, 6-4, 195
Out of all the new guards, Chatman is the one I would expect to actually see this season. He is not only tall for a point guard, but he has a huge wingspan. He is a solid shooter and should be a good defender, as he was in high school. He will become especially important if Collinsworth cannot play, or has to sit out games to prevent injury. He just returned from his mission in Taiwan, and is also coming back from knee surgery. Hopefully, he is good to go and will contribute in the minutes that he sees.
#15 Jake Toolson, 6-5, 215
Toolson is another freshman guard that could contribute if called upon. BYU was planning on Jake being on a mission right now, but due to an anxiety disorder, he has enrolled in school and will play this year. He is a scorer, having averaged 19.1 points per game over his four-year high school career. His senior season, he scored 27 points per game. He adds size and shooting to the guard lineup. Due to the number of of upperclassmen on this year's team, I would not expect to see him a whole lot, but he could play and contribute if called upon.
#2 Jordan Ellis, 6-1, 185
Ellis was the latest addition to the roster. Last season, he was on the scout team and we saw him play during the Cougar Tipoff. He has also played at Grayson County College and Portland State. We probably won't see Jordan play a whole lot this year, but having an extra point guard could prove valuable if anyone encounters serious injuries that keeps them from playing.
The Cougars have a good mix of experienced players that will see the bulk of the minutes this year. I personally would expect to see Haws, Collinsworth, Fischer, Winder, and Bartley the most. Usually the lineups will look like Haws, Collinsworth, and then one of the others. Collinsworth's size and rebounding ability could be especially valuable if Coach Rose decides to go small. Improved guard play could mean the difference between a successful season or a disappointing one.
Even though Matt Carlino was much maligned in his three years in a BYU uniform, BYU did lose a decent shooter, a good defender, and a good creator. Replacing him will be difficult, but needs to happen for the Cougars to be successful.