BYU is somewhat of a mystery team heading into its first year in the West Coast Conference, as the Cougars try to find an identity with Jimmer Fredette no longer measuring up shots from the parking lot and Brandon Davies still not yet officially on the team following last season's suspension.
So, while the team's preseason tour of Greece included some sightseeing, it was more of a fact-finding mission and included a detour. The Cougars were a late addition to a tournament that enabled them to play experienced national teams from Greece and Italy.
They lost to the Greeks by 29 and to the Italians by 39, but out of the routs came the emergence of a new leading scorer named Brock Zylstra, a 6-foot-6 junior and former walk-on.
Zylstra averaged 17.3 points and six rebounds on the trip, scoring 26 against an Italian squad featuring three NBA players in a performance that should give him confidence. No one is asking him to replace Fredette or start up Brockmania. But for a swingman who after serving a two-year mission in New Zealand has played 49 games in two seasons averaging 4.3 points for BYU without making a single start, this was a big moment.
And he wasn't the only impressive one in Greece. Senior Charles Abouo averaged 14.8 points and 8.3 rebounds while highly regarded freshman Damarcus Harrison averaged 9.3 points. With the addition of UCLA transfer Matt Carlino in December, coach Dave Rose should have many players to choose from following the departures of Fredette and Jackson Emery. Another newcomer putting up notable numbers was returning missionary Josh Sharp, who after spurning Utah was able to knock off some rust and average 6.3 points and 3.8 rebounds.
The Cougars come home with a much better idea of where they stand.