Provo • BYU’s basketball team faces a leadership void this upcoming season with no seniors on its roster and its most experienced player dealing with eligibility issues stemming from a school probe into allegations that he received improper benefits from a booster.
Coach Dave Rose announced Wednesday his team captains, the players he hopes will step up and guide the Cougars through what figures to be a rebuilding season. Juniors Elijah Bryant and Luke Worthington, who played two years before serving an LDS Church mission, are BYU’s captains for the 2017-18 season.
“Elijah and Luke are two of our most experienced players and have a great approach to the game,” Rose said in a school news release. “We will rely on them throughout the year to provide leadership in the locker room and on the court.”
The most experienced player on the roster is junior Nick Emery, who has played in 70 games the past two seasons. However, BYU is waiting on the NCAA to rule on the guard’s eligibility, and he won’t play until that decision comes down from college basketball’s governing body, Rose said Tuesday.
Worthington played in 64 games in 2013-14 and 2014-15, and Bryant played in 23 games while battling a knee injury last season. Bryant also played in 33 games at Elon University in North Carolina, where he was named the Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Year in 2014-15 before transferring to BYU.
Emery was a captain last year, along with Kyle Davis and L.J. Rose, who both sustained injuries and were not able to finish their senior seasons on the floor.
Rose said it was a “really good question” in October when he was asked from where this season’s leadership would come.
“The returning guys that just played last season have got this memory of the disappointing end to the season. Then we’ve got these returning missionaries who have all played on a tournament team,” he said. “And Luke, Luke is coming home after playing here for two years and starting here for both of those seasons. So there is some leadership and mission experience where that leadership is going to have to come from.
“Whoever rises up, you will probably see that in the next five or six weeks, and then we will name captains and hopefully get a lot of leadership from our captains. But I think this experienced group of six, seven or eight guys is where it really needs to come from.”
Bryant averaged 11.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists last year.
Worthington made 24 starts in his two pre-mission seasons, including 21 as a sophomore.
BYU concludes exhibition play Wednesday night against Colorado College, an NCAA Division III school from Colorado Springs. It opens the season at 7 p.m. Saturday against Mississippi Valley State at the Marriott Center.