Pigs are flying, Hell has frozen over. Whatever adynaton you prefer - the BYU Cougars are, dare I say, trendy and cool.
A school that frowns upon fun, their basketball team features one of the most exciting and rootable players in the world. Jimmer Fredette, an Albany, New York transplant is explosive, Caucasian and awesome. And if he has any say in it, could drive the Cougars deep into March that's trailed by a bandwagon so big that your mother and aging aunts and uncles are in the first few rows. The nation's second highest scoring returning player, Fredette scored 30+ points in eight games last season, including a 49 point barrage of makes against Arizona. Part of a formidable backcourt tandem with Jackson Emery, Jimmer also shares (4.7 assists last season) and scores with efficiency (44 percent from beyond the arc). Something tells me that the senior might just go off for a cool 50 at some point this season.
Despite the hype for Fredette, the Cougars still must play through key losses from last season's team that finished second in the Mountain West. Not returning are Tyler Haws and Jonathan Tavernari, and also Michal Loyd Jr. who inauspiciously left campus after it was determined he didn't really fit in Provo. A virtual unknown for most of last season, Loyd exploded onto the scene with 19 points on a nationally televised game against New Mexico, and scored 26 in a first-round NCAA Tournament game against Florida, converting on 4-5 three-pointers. His exit prompted people to wonder if BYU, from a recruiting standpoint, was at a disadvantage given the Mormon school's code of conduct.
While Jimmer will garner national attention all season, the Cougars will likely play second fiddle to San Diego State in the Mountain West Conference, a more complete team with a deeper rotation. But the Aztecs can't like a candle to Jimmer's cult following.
What happened this summer:
Loyd left, then resurfaced at Division II Midwestern State in Texas. Fredette declared for the NBA Draft, but was brutally honest in saying he was just interested in the workouts, and not taking the next step in hiring an agent. The athletic department mulled over the idea of becoming an independent.
Games that really matter:
- 12/11 vs. Arizona (@ Salt Lake City)
- 12/18 @ UCLA
- 12/23 vs. UTEP
- 1/5 @ UNLV
- 1/26 vs. San Diego State
- 2/26 @ San Diego State
Most intriguing player:
Jimmer Fredette (6'2" guard; senior) - Can't really elaborate here. Fredette is as crafty as they come, but he will face double teams and half-man/half-zone defenses all year. Entering the season, he's 936 points shy of breaking Danny Ainge's all-time scoring record for the program. Assuming BYU plays to the finals of the MWC Conference Tournament and two NCAA Tournament games, Fredette will have to average 26 points this season to surpass Ainge. Not easy, but not impossible.
What's on the line:
The Cougars have had a nice stretch where they've made the NCAA Tournament in five of the last seven seasons. This isn't their best team, but they've never had a player like Fredette since the aforementioned Ainge back in the early 80s.
- Conference: 2nd
- Postseason: NCAA Second Round