BYU Basketball: Shoutout to Kolby Lee
The power forward has become a key part of the BYU offense in Yoeli Childs' absence.
If you are an NCAA D1 center that shoots 45% from inside, 25% from behind the arc and 25% from the free throw line the odds of ever being a key player are very small. Those were the stats of Kolby Lee last season as he played a mere 54 minutes, mostly during garbage time on an already struggling team.
Coming into this season Lee was seen as a player that was going to be forced to play minutes with Childs and Baxter out with injuries and no other big players to defend down low. I thought that his role would be to be a big body down low that could get rebounds and keep the other team from being able to score basket after basket down low. And I wasn't alone on that.
Oh how we were wrong.
On Thursday against San Diego Kolby Lee hit a three pointer late in the game and got back on defense hearing the ROC raining chants of "Kolby! Kolby! Kolby!". Minutes later he was taken out of the game by Head Coach Mark Pope to a standing ovation of 11,400+ in the Marriot Center. That is what happens when you go from a struggling bench player to having a perfect game putting up 21 points all in less than one year.
This season Lee has been a huge contributor to the team on both ends of the floor and his effort can only be matched with Dalton Nixon. On the season so far he has improved dramatically shooting now 64% inside, 55% from three and a much improved 65% from the free throw line. What is even crazier is that he is having the teams biggest defender on him. Last year, he was being guarded by backups.
In WCC play, the power forward is averaging 11.7 points, 4.5 rebounds
and is shooting 76% from the field including 87% from inside the arc the last two games. Against San Diego, Lee was a key player in the Cougars being able to pull away from the the Toreros with is career high 21 points on a perfect eight for eight shooting night.
None of us would have ever said this before the season started, but Kolby Lee may actually be the difference in BYU winning and losing a game or two in the NCAA Tournament. Not necessarily because of what kind of statline he will put up, but because of the impact he will make without the ball as a defender and a player that causes that defenders to not double team Yoeli Childs.
The frontcourt of the Cougars looked like a huge weakness coming into the season and a likely hurdle that would keep the BYU from making the NCAA Tournament. Now though, although not deep on the roster, with Childs and Lee down low, this has become a consistent and strong part of this team.