PROVO — BYU senior forward Luke Worthington has started the last four games and he’s coming off a season-high 13-point performance in the Cougars’ 80-74 victory over Santa Clara last Saturday.
But Worthington’s worth to this team goes far beyond his stats. The team captain’s energy and willingness to help his teammates is evident.
Coach Dave Rose said Tuesday that Worthington will remain with the program for the next two seasons in a graduate assistant position as he pursues a master’s degree at BYU.
“The interesting thing with Luke is, he’s always the same guy. He’s a positive, extroverted, excited guy about not only basketball but just about life. He’s one of those positive guys,” Rose said. “It’s going to be exciting to have him around next year. He’s going to be a graduate assistant with us and get his master’s degree here, and that will be really good for our team and our consistency because all of the guys have such a respect for his approach. Some of the plays he’s making out there are plays which seniors make. I’ve told you this for years, but I love to give seniors opportunities because they’ve been here long enough, they’ve played enough games. It comes down to basically one thing — let’s see what we can do to help our team win games. Those are great guys to have out on the floor. I think Luke, one thing he gives you is he gives you everything he’s got — every play, every day. That’s what we really like about him.”
Freshman guard Connor Harding said Worthington exudes a positivity and a perspective that rubs off on his teammates.
“Luke is actually my locker buddy. He’s right by me. He’s really cool and collected. He’s not going to get upset about something. He’s not going to let a couple of losses break down the team,” Harding said. “We’ve always been together as a team because of that. That’s the biggest part. Even though we’ve had some stretches where we really fell apart defensively and offensively, we didn’t show out the best. We’ve had a couple of games where it doesn’t even look like we play basketball. But Luke has kept us together and he knows that it’s a whole process. It’s a grind. We have a whole season. It’s going to come down to the WCC tournament and conference play. He kept the big picture in mind.”
HARDNETT UPDATE: Junior guard Jahshire Hardnett, who suffered a hand injury during the Saint Mary’s game, according to Rose, has been sidelined for the past two games and doctors will determine when he can practice and play again.
BYU visits Pepperdine Thursday and San Francisco Saturday.
“Not yet,” Rose said when asked if Hardnett’s been cleared to practice. “He’s going to see another specialist (Wednesday). Hopefully, we’ll get a timeline and some more specific qualifications that need to be met in order for him to get back. He’s champing at the bit. He wants to get back out and play, but it’s really sore. Some guys are just tough guys and they’ve played through soreness and pain. Jahshire is a guy like that. Hopefully, we can get to the point where if that’s the recommendation, we can go that way.”
DIXIE’S RISE: Rose coached at Dixie College from 1987-1990 as an assistant and from 1990-1997 as the head coach.
So he has watched with considerable interest that announcement that Dixie is moving to Division I and joining the Western Athletic Conference in 2020-21.
“I’m actually really happy for the school. I know that once they left the junior college and they were in Division II, it’s kind of hard to attract the fan base that they want,” Rose said. “When we were there, it’s a 5,000-seat arena and we were getting 3,500-4,000 people a night. Then attendance really dropped in Division II. I hope this will help them. The community is so much bigger and has grown so much in the last 20 (plus) years. But they’re all new people, transplants. Something needs to happen to grab that community and have them rally around the university. This could do it. It’s great for the state. It gives a really good traveling partner for the WAC, Utah Valley.”