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Bryan Alberts looks to take the next step

Backcourt competition may be the best thing for Alberts.

NCAA Basketball: St. Martin's at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Bryan Alberts is in an interesting position entering his sophomore campaign. At the start of last season, Alberts was pegged to have a role as a three-point specialist who could help space the floor. And with plenty of minutes up for grabs on a team that lacked depth, the opportunity was there for Alberts to establish himself as a freshman. However, the inconsistencies that strike most freshmen bit Alberts, and his role diminished as the season went along.

Alberts failed to score in 23 games last season, including the team’s final nine games of the 2015-16 campaign. While he demonstrated legitimate shooting ability from deep (36.5% 3PT), he was at times too passive on offense (10.4% possessions used), while suffering breakdowns on the defensive side of the floor.

After a productive summer spent with the Dutch National Team, it will be on Alberts to show he’s made significant strides in his development. With Gonzaga’s much-ballyhooed talent influx, minutes will be harder to come by and Alberts will have to demonstrate to the coaches they can rely on him on both ends of the court. But, the addition of talented wing players like Nigel Williams-Goss, Zach Norvell, and particularly Jordan Mathews may help Alberts in the long run.

The addition of Mathews gives Alberts an experienced player whom he can learn from while also relieving him of the burden of being one of the team’s few deep threats. And, don’t discount the developmental benefit of having so many more talented players to play against in practice can have on Alberts game.

Defense seemed to be Alberts biggest issue last season. Shooters are inherently streaky, and coaches can accept that players simply won’t make every shot, but inconsistent defense is often what buries guys on the bench. Playing against the likes of the aforementioned wing-players, and learning how to defend talented scorers everyday in practice can only help Alberts improve as a player, and will pay dividends down the road.

At the moment it appears as though Alberts may find himself buried on the depth chart. But, there is always a place on the court for talented shooters who can space the floor and create pressure on the defense. Alberts must show the coaches he’s taken the next step in his development on both ends of the court, and is ready to graduate from last year’s bit-part player to a steady contributor on a team with Final Four aspirations.