Provo • Three years after landing a high-profile college basketball player who was unhappy with his playing situation at a major college program, BYU has landed another.
Coach Dave Rose announced Friday that Jamal Aytes, a freshman at UNLV whom the Cougars recruited heavily last summer, is transferring to BYU. Aytes is a 6-foot-6, 230-pound power forward from San Diego.
Aytes will begin practicing with the Cougars in January, but won’t be eligible to play until next December. That’s almost exactly what point guard Matt Carlino did in 2010 when he transferred from UCLA.
“Jamal will be a great addition to our program,” Rose said. “We’re excited to have him on our team. He’s an excellent low-post scorer and will have a positive impact on our front line.”
Aytes announced he was leaving UNLV last week after appearing in just four games this season. He was averaging 2.8 points and 9.3 minutes per game.
“I am looking forward to being a part of BYU basketball,” he said in a statement. “I feel very comfortable with the coaching staff and I think I’ll fit in really well. This is where I want to finish my college career.”
Aytes prepped at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., and averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds per game as a senior.
He shined during last summer’s AAU season while playing for a traveling club known as Dream Vision. He was ranked No. 66 nationally among power forwards by ESPN.com.
Rose vs. the Utes
Rose lost two of his first three games against Utah when he took over in 2005-06, including a 74-70 setback in the Mountain West Conference tournament semifinals. Since then, he’s lost to Utah just once, and that was in overtime (in 2009).
So he’s 12-3 all-time against the Utes heading into Saturday’s rivalry game (8 p.m., Pac-12 Network).
“It is a big game,” Rose said. “Last year, the game in here went right down to the wire. You can tell by their record, they are a good team. They’ve got real good balance to their scoring.”
Four of BYU’s five projected starters on Saturday night— Lone Peak High’s Nate Austin, Eric Mika and Tyler Haws and Provo High’s Kyle Collinsworth — are from the state of Utah. One of Utah’s starters — West Jordan’s Jordan Loveridge — played prep basketball in the Beehive State.
“Growing up here, this game means a lot,” Austin said. “But I’m sure it means a lot to them, too. For [out-of-staters], they learn about it quickly.”
Mika will not wear the safety goggles against Utah that he has worn in every game since getting poked in the eye in the game against Iowa State. … BYU’s recent success against Utah — 11 wins in the last 12 meetings and seven straight — has given the Cougars a 129-125 lead in the series. … Haws was 10-for-10 from the free-throw line in last year’s 61-58 win in Provo, as Utah players tried to manhandle the Cougars’ leading scorer from virtually the opening tip. The junior has shot 100 percent from the free-throw line six times when he has shot 10 or more free throws in a game.
BYU at Utah
P Saturday, 8 p.m.
TV • Pac-12 Network