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Here’s what keeps BYU guard Brandon Averette motivated entering senior season

Following Averette’s redshirt year, coach Mark Pope took the BYU job. Pope recruited, and landed, Averette again — and now he will finally have the chance to play for Pope this season.

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BYU grad transfer Brandon Averette goes up for two during BYU practice at the Marriott Center. Averette is one of just three seniors on this year’s team.

BYU Photo, Nate Edwards

He is the smallest player listed on the BYU basketball roster but point guard Brandon Averette is expected to make a big impact on the program.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound grad transfer from Richardson, Texas, is one of the Cougars’ three seniors and he is embracing his leadership role. 

“Being a fifth-year senior, you feel a little weird at times, being an older guy and you see the game from a different perspective than most guys,” Averette said. “I just want to help these guys and lead them. That’s my biggest thing this year. I want to become one of the best leaders in the nation and I want to help bring these guys with me. We’re only as good as our weakest link. If I’m able to help guys get better and if we’re all able to buy in to winning, I feel like I’ve done my part.”

Coach Mark Pope recruited Averette to Utah Valley University after Averette spent two years at Oklahoma State. Following Averette’s redshirt year, Pope took the BYU job. Pope recruited, and landed, Averette again — and now Averette will finally have the chance to play for Pope this season. 

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Oklahoma State guard Brandon Averette in action against Oklahoma in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018. Averette was recruited to Utah Valley University by Mark Pope, then followed Pope to BYU. He is one of just three seniors on this year’s Cougars team.

Sue Ogrocki, Associated Press

“When I first met coach Pope, I couldn’t put it into words the feeling he gave me. Without saying much, he gave me a lot of confidence in myself,” Averette said. “He made me feel like I actually believe in the player that I feel like I am. Since day 1, that’s been one of the things I’ve noticed about coach Pope. How much confidence he brings out of his guys.”  

When BYU announced the signing of Averette last summer, Pope said, “Brandon Averette is one of the most explosive, cat-quick, clever playmakers in college basketball. We feel so blessed to have him join our locker room. He is universally beloved by his teammates for his competitive spirit and playmaking ability. It’s going to take about two seconds for Cougar fans to fall in love with his quiet charisma and winning charm.”

Last season, Averette averaged 12.8 points, 2.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists at UVU.

The coaches are planning to play Averette with another point guard, senior Alex Barcello

“We’re two guards that can shoot the ball, we can pass the ball, we can score the ball. We can create a shot for ourselves or for our teammates,” Averette said. “Having that dynamic, we can both bring the ball up or play off the ball. We both have a high IQ for the game. And on top of all that, we’re both great defenders. We’re very tough and we like to get into guys’ heads. (Opposing) point guards aren’t going to have a rest. They’re either going to see me or AB.”

In practices, Averette has enjoyed teaming up with Barcello. 

“It’s been real fun,” he said. “They’ve had us on the same team and we’ve been having fun, just dominating, controlling the pace of the game, getting all of our guys open shots. It’s going to be really fun playing with AB.”

Averette is also looking forward to the assist possibilities with a deep team that features post players like 7-3 Matt Haarms, 6-11 Richard Harward, 6-9 Gavin Baxter and 6-9 Kolby Lee.

 “This team will be very dynamic in what we can do defensively and offensively. We’ve got two great playmakers in AB and I,” he said. “And we have a roster full of bigs to run the floor and protect the paint and rebound the ball. I think we’ll be tough in a lot of areas. We’re going to give a lot of teams a lot of trouble this year.”

Along with Barcello and Haarms, there’s no doubt Averette will be one of this team’s leaders. 

“We have a lot of tough-nosed guys,” he said. “Me, Matt and AB, the seniors, we’re all pretty tough as players. Everybody is following our lead with that toughness.”