More than a month after the conclusion of the 2020-21 season, which saw BYU fall to Final Four-bound UCLA in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, one of the priorities for the program is player development.
Sharpshooting guard Trevin Knell, for example, is looking to become more of a scorer next season.
The 6-foot-5, 190-pound rising junior knocked down 15 of 25 3-pointers during the final six games of the regular season and scored a career-high 20 points, including 5 of 10 3-pointers, in the West Coast Conference tournament championship game against No. 1, and eventual national runner-up, Gonzaga.
For the season, Knell shot 47% from the field, 45% from 3 and averaged 6.1 points per game.
While Knell is a proven 3-point threat, he’s working to be more versatile heading into the 2021-22 campaign.
“I definitely feel like opposing teams know that I’m a 3-point shooter and that I can shoot the ball extremely well outside the arc,” he said. “The next part of my game that I’m going to develop is handling the ball, especially under pressure and being able to make plays for my teammates.”
Knell has been watching “a ton” of video of Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry to learn from his style of play.
“He’s one of the players that never stops moving. To be able to create my own shot by coming off screens or being able to change direction to get a shot off instead of staying or trying to get open in different ways,” he said. “That’s a way I’m going to try to grow my game and obviously make the defense respect me driving or my float game.
“I’m going to be more aggressive, and be able to make plays for my teammates, handle the ball, and be able to pass. That’s what I’ve been working on.” — Trevin Knell
“I just have to trust in myself to have that score-first mentality,” he continued. “This next year as I go into my junior year, I’m going to be more aggressive, and be able to make plays for my teammates, handle the ball, and be able to pass,” Knell added. “That’s what I’ve been working on. We’re working on passing, being able to hit the bigs in different ways and finish around the rim.”
“My boy Caleb Lohner is definitely putting in the work. He’s been working out a ton. We’ve been in the weight room a ton already. He’s definitely hungry for this next year,” Knell said. “For me, transitioning from your freshman to your sophomore year, you feel like you’re easing into the speed of college basketball. I expect him to make a huge jump as well as Gideon George. I have a super great relationship with him and he’s going to continue to work hard he’s going to make a huge jump as well.”
Once the season ended, the coaching staff met with the players individually and helped them with plans to help them improve this summer.
“We’re putting together, as a staff, player development, offseason programs. We’ve got to get better. (Forward) Gavin Baxter needs to get healthy and (forward) Richard Harward needs to get better,” said assistant coach Chris Burgess. “Everyone needs to get better. Caleb Lohner needs to take a big jump, just like Gideon. We’re putting together, based on their film, analytical numbers and their Synergy profiles. We’re thinking of ways and programs for them to put in this summer, this offseason.”
A handful of players have entered the transfer portal after the end of the season, while BYU’s three “super seniors,” Alex Barcello, Matt Haarms and Brandon Averette are weighing their options. The trio could return to the Cougars next season.
While there’s plenty of uncertainty with the roster right now, Knell isn’t worried and he’s not distracted from his goal of getting better.
“It’s definitely different because we don’t have a full team yet. To be able to go from 17 players last year to six or seven guys right now is definitely different,” he said. “I credit those guys, the guys that are transferring. They’re amazing teammates last year and they’ll do amazing things.
“Brandon, Alex and Matt are amazing teammates as well. They’re going to be successful wherever they go. For me, I’ve got to continue to work. I can’t let the outside noise affect what I’m trying to do. The season’s still a long ways away. I’m going to continue to improve my own game in different ways and work out in the weight room. … There’s a lot of drills I can continue to do. I’m trying to get other guys in the gym with me and establish that leadership role.”
The Cougars finished with a 20-7 record during a season impacted by the pandemic.
Knell is hoping for more of a normal experience in 2021-22.
“I’m definitely looking forward to playing in front of people. That’s something that a lot of people take for granted. Playing in front of the fans at the Marriott Center is something special,” he said. “It’s amazing to have a home-court advantage. I know that coach (Mark) Pope is going to schedule some tough nonconference games, tough games that are going to challenge us.
“That’s something we need to be able to make a good run in the tournament. That’s something I’m excited for — being tested and to see how talented we’re going to be next year.”