BYU coach Dave Rose spent the first 10 games of this season experimenting with point guards to replace Jimmer Fredette. So when Matt Carlino, a freshman who transferred from UCLA in late 2010, finally became eligible, for the Cougars' Dec. 17 game against No. 6 Baylor, he wasted little time in making his case. In his first maningful game in 21 months, Carlino scored 15 second-half points in an 86--83 loss and was trusted to take key shots down the stretch.
The latest high-impact UCLA castoff (below), Carlino left Westwood after a term spent sidelined by a concussion and unhappy with a shift to shooting guard. Rose, lacking an heir to Fredette, approved the rare in-season addition. "In the situation we were in," he says, "we were very fortunate to get him." Carlino then spent a semester learning offensive wizardry by facing Fredette in practice ("You pick up stuff just by being amazed," he says) and, as the scout team's point guard, mimicking upcoming opponents. "It was really fun," he says, "acting like you're a different player."
On Dec. 20, Carlino had 11 assists, 10 points and seven rebounds against Buffalo. Rose admits the addition of an explosive scorer at point guard risks disrupting the inside-out attack the Cougars run through their veteran forwards, and more opportunities for Carlino leave fewer for others. "You don't just add an extra 10, 12, 15 shots a game and everything else stays the same," Rose says.
Surely, Carlino's 15.0 points per game have helped him win acceptance, and they may well help the Cougars become an NCAA tournament sleeper.
You could assemble a potent lineup of active college players who, like Matt Carlino, have left UCLA for greener pastures. Here are three others
F, Sophomore, UNLV
An afterthought on the Bruins' bench in '09--10, the lanky 6'8" forward has made a heavyweight impact at UNLV, averaging 14.0 points and 11.1 boards.
F, Senior, New Mexico
The 6'9" 245-pounder left UCLA as a sophomore after a falling-out with coach Ben Howland. A second straight double-double season could have the Lobos dancing.
G-F, Senior, UNLV
The No. 17--ranked Rebels' leading scorer (15.3 ppg) averaged just 5.8 minutes as a UCLA freshman in '07--08, but he's scored in double figures all three years in Sin City.
JAREN WILKEY/BYU PHOTO (CARLINO)
POINT MADE Carlino didn't want to play the two at UCLA, but his 22 points against UCSB on Dec. 22 showed he can still fill it up.
DAMEN JACKSON/ICON SMI (MOSER)
MARK D. SMITH/US PRESSWIRE (GORDON)
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (STANBACK)