COUGAR TRACKS

BYU’s Atiki Ally Atiki Starting To Show Flashes Of His Potential

Jan 9, 2022, 2:19 PM

BYU Basketball - Atiki Ally Atiki...

PROVO, UT - JANUARY 8: Tommy Kuhse #12 of the St. Marys Gaels is pressured by Atiki Ally Atiki #4 of the BYU Cougars during the first half of their game January 8, 2022 at the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – When BYU basketball landed a commitment from 6-foot-9 Atiki Ally Atiki, the college hoops world knew little about the Tanzania native.

Now 14 games in his first season at BYU, the London Basketball Academy (Canada) product is showing the main characteristic many used to describe him, potential.

BYU got a glimpse into the potential of Atiki Ally Atiki on Saturday night during a grind-it-out, defensive 52-43 victory over WCC rival Saint Mary’s. Atiki put together his best game as a Cougar, recording three blocks in 14 minutes of action against one of the most seasoned frontcourts the WCC has to offer this season.

Beyond the box score, “AAA’s” (his nickname around the program) physical frame that features a 7-foot-2 wingspan was a presence altering decisions made by the methodical Saint Mary’s offense.

Coming into his freshman season at BYU, the ideal route for Atiki –who turned down scholarship offers from Oklahoma and San Diego State— likely would have been to learn under the likes of Richard Harward and Gavin Baxter from the sideline. Instead, Harward and Baxter were sidelined as they both saw their 2021-22 seasons cut short due to injuries.

That changed the complete trajectory for Atiki’s first season in Provo.

Atiki, who only played in 28 organized basketball games before arriving at BYU, suddenly needed to be a key rotation piece for Mark Pope’s team striving to earn another at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament.

“It’s night and day. I’m so proud of him,” said BYU guard Te’Jon Lucas on the growth Atiki has made since his first practice in September. “He was out there playing with force [against Saint Mary’s], you know, being out there talking screens out, blocking shots, making jump hooks. We’re just getting the start of what he’s going to be.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Atiki Atiki (@atikially3a)

Along with his growth on the floor, Atiki has also been learning the English language. A member of the Muslim faith, Atiki speaks Swahili.

When Baxter went down during BYU’s loss against UVU on December 1, Atiki was thrown into the fire against a future NBA big man in Fardaws Aimaq. Moments like that one could have shaken the young big man’s confidence. But for a guy who loves the Mission Impossible movies, he’s starting to make an impossible situation appear manageable. Atiki is now making his impact on a program that strives for “turning frustration into fight.”

“The last couple minutes against Pacific, he played the last two minutes and 30 seconds; he was unbelievable. Like, he was so good. Then tonight [against Saint Mary’s], he was flawless on the defensive end,” said BYU coach Mark Pope.

The challenges will only get more difficult for BYU and Atiki, both short-term and into the future, as they first gear up for a weekend road trip to Gonzaga and San Francisco this week. Then life in the Big 12 (beginning in 2023), where Atiki will have a chance to be a foundational piece for BYU’s first taste into a power league. Like the car service, when you’ve broken down on the side of the highway, BYU is ready to make that call to their young big man.

“I’m just so proud of him because he’s been working hard in practice and so now he’s able to come out in the game and show it You can’t ask enough of Atiki. He’s a great guy, a great listener, and you know he’s been playing hard,” said Lucas. “‘AAA’ you can always rely on him.”

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

  • BYU Cougars Scoreboard

  • BYU Cougars Team Leaders

  • BYU Cougars Standings

Cougar Tracks

BYU Football, Zach Wilson, Kalani Sitake, Signing Day...

Mitch Harper

Ranking BYU Football’s Best Players To Sign During The Kalani Sitake Era

The best players to sign with BYU football for Kalani Sitake from high school and the Transfer Portal.

3 months ago

Foster Pavilion, Baylor Bears, BYU Basketball, Big 12...

Mitch Harper

Foster Pavilion Was Great Stage For BYU’s First Big 12 Road Game

Baylor's new $212 million home was a great setting for a Big 12 basketball game.

4 months ago

BYU Football, 12-Team Playoff, LJ Martin...

Mitch Harper

Three Things BYU Football Needs To One Day Reach 12-Team Playoff

The 12-team Playoff is coming in college football. What does BYU need to do to one day play in the bracket?

4 months ago

Big 12 Basketball, BYU, Dallin Hall...

Mitch Harper

How Will BYU Basketball Fare In Big 12? Projecting 2024 Order Of Finish

Where will BYU finish in their first season of Big 12 Conference play? Time to make predictions.

4 months ago

BYU Basketball, Mark Pope, Big 12...

Mitch Harper

Mark Pope Lays Out BYU’s Expectations For Inaugural Big 12 Schedule

Big 12 play has arrived for No. 12 BYU Basketball. Mark Pope shares his expectations for conference play.

5 months ago

BYU Basketball, Trevin Knell, Three-Point Shooting...

Mitch Harper

What We Learned About BYU Basketball During Nonconference Play

BYU basketball turns its attention to Big 12 play. But first we take a step back at look at what we learned about the Cougars in nonconference.

5 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @kslsports...

KSL Give-A-Thon

The KSL Sports Zone, KSL 5 TV, FM100.3, 103.5 The Arrow, and KSL NewsRadio have teamed up to raise money for the kids being served by Primary Children’s Care!

ksl-sports-newsletter...

KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.

...

KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

Follow @kslsports...

The Road Home Mediathon 2023

The KSL Sports Zone and KSLSports.com are proud to support the all-day Mediathon 2023 at the Road Home, an annual tradition to raise money and other essential items for the Road Home, a Homeless Shelter.

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.

BYU’s Atiki Ally Atiki Starting To Show Flashes Of His Potential