Abouo's resurgence

Recently it could have been said that one of BYU's missing pieces was a confident and involved Charles Abouo playing at the top of his game, and he is even more important now given the loss of Brandon Davies. Various circumstances have brought Abouo back into the starting lineup, and he's shown that he's deserving of that.

This is the second year in a row that junior Charles Abouo began the season as a starter at small forward before losing that spot to a true freshman – first Tyler Haws, then Kyle Collinsworth. If that was a blow to Abouo's ego, he hasn't shown any sign of that.

"It hasn't been bad. I've always been a big part of what we do, and whether it's starting or coming off the bench, I feel like I have the same amount of impact on the game because the coaches have a lot of trust in my abilities and they always give me a chance to go out there and play."

But unlike last year, this season Abouo has regained his starting role at the three spot. His path was opened when Collinsworth suffered a concussion in the home game against UNLV, and though the freshman only missed one game, Abouo grabbed hold of the starting role and didn't let go.

As complimentary as Rose has been of Collinsworth, the fact remains that he's a true freshman and is developing. When Abouo is playing well and being assertive, he simply brings more to the table right now.

Of course, with Brandon Davies being done for the season, the Cougars employed a new starting lineup during the last game of the regular season that saw the two of them starting at the same time. Collinsworth started at the three, while Abouo was moved over to the four and Noah Hartsock shifted to the five.

This smaller lineup could likely be what Coach Rose opts to go with for the rest of the season. While Abouo said he hasn't played the four that much – though he does have experience guarding other teams' power forwards – it doesn't mean his role will differ much if at all.

"I feel comfortable out there. I just feel like I've been doing what I've been doing all season because it's basically the same thing we're doing, but we're just doing a couple different looks defensively. But coaches are still putting us in the spots where we're comfortable. I wouldn't necessarily say I'm playing the four, I'm just playing how they always have Charles play out there, just in different spots."

Rose said Abouo possesses important attributes and skills that allow him to help the Cougars in various ways.

"I think he's really strong and he's athletic, he's a very good perimeter shooter, and then he's a great teammate," said Rose about Abouo. "He loves any opportunity he gets to compete, but [he] is a versatile guy, can play a couple positions, [and is] a great defender. So I think that all those things have made him really a huge contributor to our success."

At times earlier this season, it couldn't always be said that Abouo was a huge contributor. He seemingly got lost in the shuffle and played inconsistent minutes, including a season-low three minutes against UTEP on December 23.

After scoring in double figures in BYU's first two games of the season, he only scored in double figures once in the next 21 games. But in the last eight games, Abouo has scored in double figures four times.

When Jimmer Fredette struggled for a good portion of the home game against Utah, it was Abouo that kept the Cougars in it with 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting and a game-high 10 rebounds.

In the huge road victory against No. 4 San Diego State, Abouo chipped in 18 points and nine rebounds. He was on fire from outside, connecting on four of his five shots from beyond the arc, including a corner three that banked off the backboard. It was a shot he called "pure luck."

There was also one memorable sequence when he missed a shot down low, battled for a hard-fought rebound, missed another shot, got another offensive rebound, and finally got the bucket. SDSU's rebounding prowess notwithstanding, Abouo was able to impose his will physically in a way that perhaps no other Cougar can (especially given the team's depleted frontcourt).

"I had missed some easy baskets and I missed a couple on that play, and I was just determined to finally get it in."

Against Wyoming last week, Abouo scored a career-high 25 points. Perhaps previewing what fans can expect to see more out of BYU from here on out, he slashed to the basket time and time again, making eight of his nine shots from within the arc.

Simply put, as the season has worn on and more has been on the line, the team has needed Abouo more. He sensed that even before Davies' suspension, and with that big loss and also the start of postseason play, he is more important than ever and could perhaps be a similar spark plug for BYU as Michael Loyd was late last season.

"With our team the last couple years, when we come down the stretch we need everyone," said Abouo. "We need performances out of the whole team."

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