Cougars reflect on Senior Night

Barring a potential home game in the NIT, Thursday night will be the last home game for three BYU seniors. In addition, two other players will be honored on Senior Night. Getting a win against No. 2 Gonzaga – the highest-ranked team to ever play in the Marriott Center – will be extremely tough but would make for an unforgettable Senior Night.

Cougar seniors Brandon Davies, Brock Zylstra and Craig Cusick will be honored at Thursday's game against Gonzaga, along with Stephen Rogers and Chris Collinsworth, who both would be seniors on the team had injuries not prematurely ended their careers.

While this isn't one of the more successful BYU teams that Coach Rose has had, he noted the things that the seniors have been able to achieve over the years, including winning conference titles and playing in the NCAA tournament.

Given the caliber of opponent, going out with a win on Thursday in what could be their last home game (again, depending on what happens in the postseason should BYU not earn the WCC automatic bid) would be great for the seniors. But regardless of whether that happens, they have all persevered through unique circumstances.

Despite having a successful career at BYU, long-time starter Brandon Davies is best known for being suspended late in the 2010-11 season after violating the school's honor code. With the Cougars ranked No. 3 nationally at the time and in position to get a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, he subsequently faced a great deal of scrutiny. However, he rejoined the team the following season instead of leaving BYU and exploring opportunities elsewhere.

Davies is grateful for the support he's received from BYU fans ever since his suspension.

"Ever since I've been here the fans have always been great to me no matter the obstacles that we've had to go through personally or as a team. They've always been there. I have nothing but love and respect for them."

He said he hasn't given a great deal of thought to Thursday's game potentially being his last one in the Marriott Center.

"The bigger part of it is it's a big game, so it kind of drowns out the feelings of it being my last game here on the floor," he said. "But, like every game, I'm going to give it my all. And yeah, it has a lot of sentimental value to it, but at the same time we're coming in with a job to do."

Brock Zylstra, meanwhile, is a former walk-on who eventually earned a scholarship. He had to bide his time until he could play a significant role for the Cougars, and was named a team captain this season.

"It's surreal right now," Zylstra said about possibly playing his last home game. "I don't really know how to explain it. Maybe when we're out there getting our flowers from our moms and our wives, I think that's maybe when it will hit me a little bit, but as of now it's crazy to think that it's gonna be my last [home] game."

Like Zylstra, Craig Cusick also joined the team as a walk-on, but unlike Zylstra, he never received a scholarship despite starting at times the past two seasons. Cusick also had a more unusual path to get this point. He redshirted as a true freshman at the University of Utah in 2006-07, but Ute head coach (and current Gonzaga assistant) Ray Giacoletti was replaced by Jim Boylen after the season while Cusick left to serve a mission.

He transferred to BYU after he got back but wasn't sure if he would play basketball again after suffering a broken ankle. He played on BYU's practice squad in 2010-11 and joined the team the following season. Cusick recently became a big story when he hit the game-winning shot against Utah State mere hours after finding out his father has cancer.

"It's crazy to think that this is the last one," Cusick said about Thursday's home game. "For any senior, you go through that and you never think it's gonna come, but it is here and I couldn't be more grateful for the career I've been able to have here at BYU ‘cause it's been a dream come true, truly."

Cusick said he feels fortunate to be playing significant minutes despite being a walk-on.

"Obviously I'm just grateful for the opportunity that Coach has given me and to prove myself, so I couldn't be happier with where we're at right now. We just need to finish the season strong and make it to postseason play."

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