Last year we were successful on offense but a lot of times it was throwing into Eric and letting him work. Now guys know they’re going to make the right play. —Yoeli Childs
PROVO — It didn’t take long for BYU’s Yoeli Childs to make his presence felt in the annual Cougar Tipoff Wednesday night at the Marriott Center.
The sophomore forward scored on three alley-oop dunks in the first 10 minutes of the game and he ended up scoring a game-high 23 points and grabbing seven rebounds in the Blue Team’s 88-68 victory over the White Team.
With Eric Mika having turned pro during the offseason, Childs provides BYU with a formidable presence inside. Childs likes the Cougars' offensive approach this season.
“The ball was popping around a lot. Almost everyone touches it on every play. That’s a huge deal on offense,” Childs said. “Last year we were successful on offense but a lot of times it was throwing into Eric and letting him work. Now guys know they’re going to make the right play. They don’t have to force anything because we’re going to make the right play.”
Coach Dave Rose said Childs didn’t reveal his full repertoire Wednesday.
“Tonight, because of personnel, he was really limited to around the basket and in the key. He’s really expanded his game a lot,” Rose said. “He’s got the ball in his hands, he’s making good decisions and he’s got a lot of options. He’s feeling pretty good with his ability to make plays on the perimeter.”
Elijah Bryant and TJ Haws scored 20 points apiece for the Blue squad while Dalton Nixon scored a team-high 19 points for the White squad. Bryant also added eight assists and five rebounds.
Nixon, who returned home from a LDS Church mission six months ago, has transformed his body and showed off a stronger, sleeker side of himself.
“It feels really good. It’s hard to explain because it’s so familiar and so unfamiliar at the same time. It’s been a while,” Nixon said. “It felt good to be out there with the guys. It’s a whole new team but guys I’ve played against in high school.”
Nixon actually picked up five fouls in the first half but, because it’s a scrimmage, he was allowed to continue playing.
“Technically, he fouled out so he shouldn’t have gotten all of those baskets,” Childs joked. “Dalton works his butt off. He’s a dude that’s always in the gym. He works hard in the weight room and in every drill. He’s the guy you don’t want to guard in practice because he goes so hard every play. I can’t wait to see his success this season.”
Rose liked what he saw from Nixon.
“I was happy for Dalton,” he said. “He played in this game exactly how he’s practiced the past three weeks. That could be a real plus for us.”
Overall, Rose was pleased with what he saw from his players after weeks of practices.
“I thought it was a good scrimmage for what we’re trying to do and how we’re trying to bring this group together. I thought there were some really good things,” he said. “Every time a basket is scored in a game like this, you have a little bit of anxiety because you’re happy for the group that scored and a little disappointed with the guys that gave up the score.”
Among the newcomers, guard Jahshire Hardnett was impressive, scoring 14 points, to go along with five rebounds and seven assists.
Meanwhile, Luke Worthington, another recently returned LDS Church missionary, finished with 16 points and six rebounds.
Zac Seljaas scored 10 points and Nick Emery had nine for the Blue team.
“The best thing about this is we get to move on and coach one team from now on,” Rose said. “When you take the pieces of what you saw here, we can put together a team that can be pretty competitive. I like the feel and the pace and the guys stayed within themselves.”
The Cougars visit New Mexico Friday for a charity exhibition game.