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BYU basketball: Piano performances by two players, touching farewells highlight annual banquet

Published April 12, 2017 11:48 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Davin Guinn and Payton Dastrup have mad piano skills, Jamal Aytes and Corbin Kaufusi have quite likely worn BYU basketball jerseys for the last time and Elijah Bryant is engaged to be married.

That's what guests at the annual BYU team basketball banquet learned Wednesday night in the Marriott Center Annex as head coach Dave Rose handed out this past season's awards and honored the players and his assistant coaches and their wives for another winning year.

The night's most touching moment came when Rose called Aytes to the podium and relayed the story of Aytes' recruitment, losing the highly-recruited forward to UNLV at the last second, and then getting a phone call from Aytes wondering if the Cougars would still take him because his first semester at Vegas wasn't going so well.



Aytes has a year of eligibility left, but Rose choked up a bit when he talked about how Aytes will graduate in two weeks. He will become the first member of his family to earn a college diploma.

Aytes spoke briefly as well, thanking the entire BYU community for the love and support he received since joining the program in 2013. It certainly sounded like a farewell speech, and Rose and Aytes shared a hug when Aytes concluded his remarks.

Rose gave Aytes the "Coaches Award," and talked about he never missed a practice and remained positive and a team chemistry-builder despite limited minutes in 2016-17 due to various knee and ankle ailments that kept him from regaining the form he showed in high school when the likes of Arizona, UCLA, Kansas and Gonzaga were recruiting him.

Rose also bid farewell to seniors LJ Rose and Kyle Davis and to freshman Colby Leifson, who will leave in June for his delayed mission to Brazil, but is expected to return to the team in 2019.

As for Kaufusi, who celebrated a birthday Wednesday, he said he is meeting with Rose on Thursday and will make a decision then whether he will play football only or return to basketball when the football season ends in December, as he did this past year. All indications are that he is leaning toward giving up basketball and concentrating 100 percent on his blossoming football future as a defensive end.

Every player on the 2016-17 roster was in attendance except Zach Frampton, who had another commitment Wednesday night. Kyle Davis, Nick Emery and LJ Rose were lauded for being team captains.

There was no mention of Eric Mika's future after the sophomore center declared for the NBA Draft last month but did not hire an agent. He has until May 24 to decide whether to return to BYU or turn professional.

Of course, the win over then-No. 1 Gonzaga, which reached the NCAA Tournament championship game before losing to North Carolina, was mentioned as the highlight of the year.

After playing a tune on the piano from the movie La La Land, Guinn received the most inspirational player award. The 6-foot-5 guard also has a year of eligibility remaining, but will graduate in June with a 3.93 GPA in Political Science and will begin attending law school next fall while also working on an MBA.

It would not be a surprise if Guinn — a former walk-on who earned a scholarship and then took on a major role last season as injuries mounted — hangs up his sneakers as well, given the heavy academic load ahead of him.

I did not see Zac Seljaas, who recently returned home from a church mission, at the banquet. But as was reported last month, Seljaas will rehabilitate a sore shoulder that caused him to return prematurely in the next few months and will rejoin the program this fall. Obviously, the departures of Aytes, Kaufusi and/or Guinn will free up a scholarship(s) for Seljaas and possibly others.

Dastrup, looking trimmer than when we last saw him in March, played a rendition of Green Day's Boulevard of Broken Dreams on the piano.

Props to Aubrey Reeves, administrative assistant to the BYU basketball coaches, and her staff for putting on another outstanding banquet.

Here are the award winners:

Most Outstanding Player: Eric Mika

Sixth-Man Award: Elijah Bryant

Most Inspirational Player: Davin Guinn

Comeback Player of the Year: LJ Rose

Most Improved Player: Yoeli Childs

Competitive Spirit Award: TJ Haws

Outstanding Defensive Player: Nick Emery

Best Conditioned Post Player: Eric Mika

Best Conditioned Perimeter Player: Nick Emery

Academic Excellence: Davin Guinn

Coaches Award: Jamal Aytes

 

 

 

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