Having missed out on Jabari Parker, BYU basketball still has one scholarship left for 2013-14 season
It is never too early to think about what next year's BYU basketball team will look like, right? That's sort of the topic of my offering in today's Tribune, as I wrote about how last October's decision by the LDS Church to let young men go on missions if they are 18 and have graduated from high school (instead of 19) is affecting BYU's program. Of the five high school seniors who signed in November, three will immediately serve missions (Jakob Hartsock, Braiden Shaw and Nick Emery), while two will play right away (Eric Mika and Luke Worthington). Mika and Worthington won't be the only newcomers to the team next fall, however. Kyle Collinsworth will return from his mission in Russia, basically taking the scholarship vacated by current guard Cory Calvert, who told me Tuesday that he will submit his missionary papers in the next month or two and hopes to leave in late April or early May. Two more scholarships will be vacated by seniors Brock Zylstra and Brandon Davies. Another senior, Craig Cusick, is still a non-scholarship player (walk-on). Assistant coach Tim LaComb confirmed that BYU still has one scholarship available (injured forward Chris Collinsworth counts as a scholarship player this year because he had already enrolled in school when he was deemed unable to continue his career, but won't count next year). That scholarship presumably would have gone to Jabari Parker, who chose Duke over BYU and three other schools last month. LaComb said they will try to fill it in April when the next signing period begins. "We are out just beating the bushes now, working hard to see as many guys as we can, and just looking for the right fit," he said, declining to divulge whether they are trying to find a center, forward or guard. LaComb said that when all was said and done, the missionary age-change rule didn't really change any of the five recruits' plans. "It is such a personal thing. A lot of them had their minds [set] on what they wanted to do. And even with the change, [that stayed the same]," LaComb said. "You know, Nick [Emery] was kind of leaning toward [going first] anyway, so early on he decided he was going to go out. "The [change] has changed the way we recruit a little bit, but moreso this first year because we recruited all these kids that are planning to serve missions, and when they are going to serve has always been up to them," he continued. "So basically this first year was an interesting one because everyone was kind of locked in anyway. I mean, Eric [Mika] was going to come, and Luke [Worthington] was going to come [play first] because they don't turn 19 until later. Jakob [Hartsock] and Braiden [Shaw] were always going to serve missions first. It just shifts it a little bit, but it doesn't change it a ton. The nice thing is we are dealing with 13 scholarships a year, instead of 85 [like football]. It is much less of an issue for us." Coach Dave Rose said in the future he expects that almost every young man who wants to will go on his mission first. There won't be a lot of cases like Tyler Haws, Kyle Collinsworth and Cory Calvert. "I think it will be probably similar to how it was before, only opposite, if that makes any sense," Rose said. "Because we had a few guys that would go on their missions before they would come and play, and a lot of guys who would come and play their freshman year, then go. I think it will change to the opposite of that. ...so the majority will go first." In working on the aforementioned article I chatted with Calvert and a couple of Lone Peak products Josh Sharp and Nate Austin who took different routes out of high school. Sharp stuck around a year and redshirted at Utah because he didn't turn 19 until a full year after he graduated from high school. Austin went a few months after he graduated from high school, then got back only a few weeks before school started in the fall of 2011. Calvert said when he signed the plan was for him to go on a mission first. But last April, Rose called him and told him a scholarship was open if he wanted to play a year and then go. He took the offer. "I kind of wanted to play a year before I left, so when coach called me, I was all over that," Calvert said. "I think about the fact that I could already be out there serving a little bit. But I am just really happy to be here. This team has a lot of potential, and I think we can make it a long way this year." Austin said the plan all along was for him to go on a mission right away, because of BYU's scholarship situation. After getting back a few weeks before the season started in 2011, he figured he would be redshirting until he was put into the opener against Utah State. "Going into our first game, against Utah State, there was still a question about whether I would play or redshirt. Then Brandon [Davies] got in foul trouble and and Chris [Collinsworth] got in foul trouble and coach said, 'Nate, you are in, and I thought, 'i guess i am not redshirting anymore.'" What advice would Austin give now that he's been through it? "In my situation, I loved going on a mission first, and then coming back and having four years to play," he said. "I have talked to others about it. Tyler says that if he would have had the choice, he probably would have gone first. Just so you can come back and have a year to recover, if you need it. You have that redshirt available, or whatever. For me, I think it is best to go on a mission first and serve the Lord first, then come back and have four years to focus on basketball."As for Sharp, he said he has a late birthday so he didn't have a choice but to play for a year. He said if he did have the choice, if he could have gone back then when he turned 18 the summer after he graduated from Lone Peak, he probably would have gone. He said that current Lone Peak junior T.J. Haws (Tyler's brother), who has committed to BYU, will have a tough decision to make. "I think it is cool that 18-year-olds have that opportunity now," he said. "Guys like me and Tyler [Haws] will be a rarity. Most guys will go first. That will be the trend. I know he is still deciding what to do, but T.J. [Haws] could play a year here with Ty if he want to, and then go after Ty graduates. There are circumstances like that where people won't go even if they can go first. It is going to be interesting to see what guys decide to do."