PROVO — With just under five minutes remaining, and BYU up nine points on Utah State Saturday night at EnergySolutions Arena, BYU’s Frank Bartley IV split the lane to throw down a thunderous left-handed dunk that brought the Cougar faithful to their feet.
The play served notice, to anyone who hadn’t yet noticed, that the true freshman has arrived as a consistent and impactful contributor for this year's team.
Slowly but surely, Bartley has seen his minutes increase with every game this season to where he's logged at least 20 minutes in BYU's last three contests.
Against the Aggies Saturday, the 6-foot-3 Louisiana native had perhaps his best outing since arriving at BYU — finishing with 14 points and providing a huge spark off the bench.
Bartley's dunk — his first since arriving at BYU — punctuated his effort on the night along with his rising contribution as coach Dave Rose's first option off the bench.
The Louisiana native had few words to say about his dunk, or performance, overall, which sort of typifies his approach since arriving at BYU.
"He's kind of quiet off the floor, but when he gets on the floor he's as mean as they come," described junior forward Tyler Haws. "He's not afraid of anyone and I think that's really special for a true freshman — to not be intimidated by anything. He's definitely a huge part of our team."
The reason Bartley hasn't looked the part of a true freshman early in the season is because he really isn't one.
Bartley signed with BYU after spending a full year out of high school playing at Future College prep school in Los Angeles. The prep school works as sort of a bridge program to prepare prospective college athletes both academically and athletically.
Bartley took full advantage of the opportunity.
"I got used to it, I think, and that's really helped me coming here to BYU," he said. "We played a lot of competitive teams across the country and against some of the top recruits in the country, and that really helped me."
Rose and his staff identified Bartley as someone who could provide an immediate impact and put immediate pressure on him to do so.
"We really needed production out of the position he's been playing, and his ability to come in and play well in tight moments against tough teams has been great," Rose said. "To play as well as he has not only shows his talent level, but the confidence the rest of the guys have in him."
Bartley knows he hasn't arrived yet, and is quick to credit coaches and teammates for his immediate impact as a first-year player.
"Coach Rose trusts me as a player and trusts me to play my game, so that gives me a lot of confidence," he said. "That's the best part about his system he doesn't hold us back, or give us specific roles, but lets us play our game."
Bartley is still adjusting to BYU's unique culture off the hardwood but has enjoyed his collegiate experience so far.
"I'm not LDS, but we had the same sort of rules at my old high school, so I love it here," he said. "I love the community, I love the fans and I love everything about BYU."
North Texas next
Next up for Bartley and the Cougars is a home game against North Texas Tuesday at 7 p.m. MST. The Mean Green basketball team is 5-3 on the year and winners of three straight heading into the matchup.