Fredette Highlights BYU's Talented Guardline

It's certainly no secret that one of BYU's strengths this season will be its guards. It's clear that cat was let out of the bag, particularly when considering junior starting point guard Jimmer Fredette's selection as the preseason Player of the Year in the Mountain West Conference.

Then there's the fact that the Cougars also return junior starting shooting guard Jackson Emery, who has picked up right where he left off and has been recording steals during practices at an impressive rate. And just like last season, that has been leading to some fast-break opportunities and some easy scores. He was even sure to add an impressive one-handed throw down during the first day of practice for good measure.

Adding to the depth at the guard positions are returning backups in senior Lamont Morgan and sophomore Michael Loyd, the latter of who redshirted last season after playing as a true freshman.

And while sophomore swingman Charles Abouo is a safe bet to start at the three spot this season, he has also played at the two spot.

What also speaks to BYU's experience at the guard positions is the fact that Emery and Morgan were the two players selected by the team – reportedly unanimously – to be team captains.

Fredette said he thinks this could be the best guard rotation since he's been at BYU.

"We had some strong rotations in the past, but this year I think our depth is the best that it's ever been at the guard position, so I think that anybody that comes in to play is gonna be ready and is gonna be able to go at full tilt."

Fredette is, of course, the most notable of BYU's guards given both his play on the court and the honors he's received. And with Lee Cummard gone, Fredette is likely to receive even more focus from other teams defensively. Cummard led the Cougars last year with 16.8 points per game, but Fredette was right behind him with 16.2 points per game. So, the league's only returning first-team selection from last season is sure to have a target on his back.

"You know, at the end of last year I started to get a couple more defenses thrown at me, but Lee was still here and they basically based their defense around him," said Fredette. "But you know, this year I'm expecting a lot of different defenses for ball screens and just for posting up, and [for] everything that we run they're gonna have a defense for it."

Being the guy the opposition wants to shut down is certainly not new to Fredette. As he became more and more of a threat to other teams last season, they couldn't afford to just worry about Cummard or Jonathan Tavernari. The attention he received hearkened back to his days as a prolific scorer in New York high school basketball.

"It was like high school where they really base the defense around you," said Fredette of last year. "But we have so many good players on the team this year that if they do base the defense around me I'm gonna be able to get it to the open guy and they're gonna hurt them as well, so I think that it's a good thing."

Fredette, who used the offseason to focus on improving his ball handling, ball screens and lateral quickness, certainly doesn't seem timid about the challenge lying ahead of him this season.

When asked if it's fun for him to be a marked man, Fredette replied: "Yeah, definitely. It just shows that they have respect for you and you're a pretty good player and that they want to try to stop you, and you obviously as a competitor want to go and beat their defense and play as well as you can, and I'm excited for that."

But while Cougar fans are very familiar with Fredette, as well as Emery and Morgan, it's been a while since they've been able to see Loyd in action. He hasn't played since two seasons ago when he was a true freshman. He redshirted last season, using that time to improve on his game.

"Mike Loyd is an unbelievable athlete," said Fredette. "He's really worked on his shot, he's been shooting a lot better. He's definitely worked on staying under control and playing at a fast pace when he should, and when he shouldn't [he will] slow it down a little bit and do things that the coaches want him to do. But he's been a real good player of us and I think that this year he's gonna play extremely well. He's gonna play great defense for us, he's gonna get up and down the floor, he's gonna shoot the ball well, so I'm really excited to have him on the team."

Starting Five

With four of last year's starters returning, one might imagine that Coach Rose is simply looking for a new starter at the three spot to replace Cummard. However, Coach Rose said he isn't looking for one new starter, but looking for five starters overall. In other words, no one's job is guaranteed.

"We're playing a lot of guys at a lot of different places and trying to get a feel for what we have," said Rose.

Still, it's hard to imagine that Fredette, Emery, Tavernari and Chris Miles won't be four of the five starters when the season gets underway. Rose said that so far, while various players have looked great at times, its Fredette, Emery and Tavernari that have been the most consistent.

Even if the four returning starters all keep their jobs, there has been speculation by some that Tavernari could end up being moved to the three spot, and that Noah Hartsock could end up as the starter at the four.

But while Hartsock is an improved player, and Coach Rose noted the difference in him now that he's been back from his mission for a year and has a fully healed ankle, Abouo has been one of the standouts of practice thus far and is making a strong bid to be a starter. Rose said he has played really well, and noted his strength, speed and quickness.

In any event, Rose indicated before the first practice even began that Tavernari would likely stay at the four.

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