The Marriott Center Annex is a basketball palace where answers could emerge this summer for BYU basketball.

You’ve got the long and arduous rehab of forward/center Gavin Baxter from ACL knee surgery. It’s Baxter Rehab Part II. He remains one of the most gifted athletes in the program despite his bad luck with injuries.

Mark Pope’s staff sees and likes the  progress of redshirt freshman combo guard Hunter Erickson, who didn’t get a taste of playing time in the COVID-19 season. 

Then there’s the arrival of freshmen Atiki Ally Atiki from Tanzania by way of London, Ontario, in Canada, American Fork guard Trey Stewart off missionary service and the arrival of Wasatch Academy forward Fousseyni Traore, a native of West Africa.

And on June 1, prospective recruits and signees that were barred from campus visits can officially inspect things firsthand as the NCAA will lift its dead period for in-person meandering around college towns and cities they may land in someday.

Finally, the time for some serious skill development with staff supervision is about a month away.

“Gavin’s rehab is progressing perfectly,” said BYU assistant coach Chris Burgess.

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Baxter had surgery on his knee in January and he is on track to make a recovery in time for the fall season. “He’s healthy, he’s always lifting with the guys and he’s doing physical therapy with trainer Rob Ramos six times a week. 

“Every week he’s trying to do more in small increments, working on his core. He is able to come in the annex and shoot and go through noncontact shooting drills. He does all of our passing drills and spot shooting without contact. He’s on track and we hope to have him back in the fall.”

Baxter injured his knee on Thanksgiving night 2020 in a win over New Orleans.

Another player sidelined last year using a redshirt season, is freshman Erickson, a 22-point a game all-state guard from Timpview High School. Erickson’s progress has been impressive, said Burgess.

The Erickson factor comes into play because Pope lost senior Brandon Averette, and Alex Barcello, the other sidekick backcourt leader, has not yet made public his decision to stay or turn professional.

BYU has intensely worked with prospects in the transfer portal for an answer at the point guard position. On Wednesday Penn State guard Izaiah Brockington, who had BYU in his final five, decided to go to Iowa State. BYU reportedly made the final two for Florida Gulf Coast guard Jalen Warren.

One carrot Pope’s staff can use transfers into his program is a December trip to Hawaii to play in the Diamond Head Classic on Oahu.

“I think Erickson is going to have a big offseason. He’s always been kind of a combo guard who has made a huge jump this year,” said Burgess. “I know a lot of people didn’t get to see him this year because he logged virtually no minutes this season. He used it as a COVID-19 year, where he gets that year back. But he worked hard in the weight room and on the court.”

Burgess said he expects Erickson’s progress to mirror that of Trevin Knell, who increased his 3-point shooting accuracy by 20 points in the offseason a year ago. “This is a big offseason for him to make that kind of progress for Hunter. He’s another kid you can throw out there to be a ballhandler.”

The way the Cougars offense works, said Burgess, requires multiple ballhandlers like TJ Haws and Jake Toolson in 2019 and Barcello and Averette in 2020. “We need playmakers and Barcello could be one of those along with Hunter, as could Spencer (Johnson) and Trevin, to be able to bring the ball up, handle pressure and get into ball screens.  They are all working on specific things to improve on this offseason.”

Incoming freshmen like the Tanzanian Atiki are expected to be on campus to work out on June 21. “He will not be going back to Tanzania before he comes here,” said Burgess.

It will be his first visit to Provo.