Former Cougar star Jackson Emery shares insights on the 2011 team, Jimmermania and more

By Nate Gagon

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 4 2013 2:55 p.m. MST

Brigham Young Cougars guard Jimmer Fredette (32) and Brigham Young Cougars guard Jackson Emery (4) in Provo, Utah, Saturday, March 5, 2011. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Editor's note: This is the second in a three-part series on BYU basketball. Part 1 took a look at what could have happened with the Cougar basketball team in the 2010-11 season. Part 3 will take a detailed look into the future of BYU basketball.

For a follow-up to an article taking a look back at the memorable and nearly legendary run of the 2010-11 BYU men’s basketball team, Jackson Emery, star senior shooting guard and captain on that team, was kind enough to talk with me and share his unique insights into the story.

A little background: Emery played his high school ball at local powerhouse Lone Peak and was named Mr. Basketball in the state of Utah in 2005. He played one season at BYU before leaving on an LDS mission for two years in Mexico.

From his sophomore to senior years, Emery started 99 games for the Cougars. He finished his career as the program’s all-time leader in steals, No. 23 all-time in scoring, No. 3 in 3-pointers made, No. 11 in games started, No. 13 in minutes played and No. 5 in wins. He was chosen to the Mountain West Conference’s All-Defensive Team his final three seasons and was the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2011 in addition to myriad other awards.

In talking with BYU fans, Emery is well-remembered for his upbeat personality and sportsmanlike attitude, in addition to his defense, 3-point shooting and jumping ability.

Emery had options to pursue a professional basketball career in Europe after college but chose to focus instead on his family and providing a living for them. Even though he can still play the game at a high level and misses it, he is a happy father of two and is working for a company called Domo Inc.

Here's a look at the question-and-answer session with Emery:

Gagon: You guys were so close in 2011 to beating Florida and going to the Elite 8, where you would have had only Butler, VCU and Connecticut left to beat. If you would have gotten past Florida, how good do you think your chances would have been to win it all?

Emery: I think our chances would have been really good. I knew Florida would give us a huge challenge because of how big they were, starting three 6-foot-10 guys and then just having the talent surrounding them. I thought, by far, looking at Florida, Butler, VCU and Connecticut, that Florida was the most talented team. I looked at all those teams, and you know, we could have competed with them. We could have beaten them. I think that’s probably what made the loss so much harder. But unfortunately we didn’t have that opportunity.

Gagon: I remember at the time of the tournament, thinking about how good you guys might have been if you would have had Brandon Davies, Tyler Haws and Michael Loyd Jr. who all should or could have been on that team, but were not for various reasons. Considering how close you were anyway, how do you think having those three guys would have impacted your chances to win the NCAA championship?

Emery: Brandon was sorely missed. He provided a huge post presence that could score, especially since we had a lot of guys that could stretch the floor and attract attention. Particularly against Florida, having three 6-10 guys — I mean they started three forwards where we started four guards, so Brandon was sorely missed.

Tyler would have been a huge boost with his ability to score, his toughness, and his way of rebounding the ball. To have him would have been huge.

And then Mike Loyd, to have that component of quickness to attack the hoop — all those guys provided different capabilities and strengths.

It would have been nice to have all three of them for sure.

Gagon: As far as you know, did Tyler ever look at that 2011 team, think about the possibilities, and consider playing one more season before going on his mission?

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