WCC Preseason Power Rankings: No. 1, Kyle Collinsworth (Alley Whoops’ pick for conference player of the year)

Kyle Collinsworth. Courtesy of BYU Photo/Mark Philbrick

Height: 6–6
Weight: 210 pounds
Class: Senior
2014–15 stats: 33 games, 33 starts, 30.9 minutes, 13.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.8 steals, 47% FG.
Fun Fact: Collinsworth started 27 games as a freshman for the 2010–11 BYU team that included Jimmer Fredette

The first time I saw Kyle Collinsworth play in person was a road game at Stanford, in November, 2013. It was Collinsworth’s first season back from his two-year Mormon mission in Russia, and though he didn’t post 31 points, like teammate Tyler Haws, or drop 26 like Matt Carlino, he stole the show with his display of sheer dominance. For the past two seasons, no player has impacted games in so thorough a manner.

Fourteen points, nine assists, seven rebounds, three steals and a block: those were Collinsworth’s numbers in that thrilling 112–103 win over the Cardinal.

It was the way he reached those numbers, using a dizzying blend of syncopation and power off the bounce to muscle into the lane. From there came the vision. Dimes dropped with perfect timing, missed shots attacked with relentless abandon.

It’s a far cry from the nonchalant air Collinsworth carries off the court. Take a post-game press conference. He might be wearing a Russia t-shirt, hands slowly nestling behind his head as he rocks on his chair, awaiting questions to which he will deliver concise, polite responses.

“Best player on the best team” is the age-old criterion used to decide Players of the Year.

So, in many ways, it made sense that Kevin Pangos was named the 2014–15 West Coast Conference POTY. Not only did Gonzaga complete yet another conference regular-season and tournament championship double; the Zags were one of the best teams in the country — as evidenced by their eventual finish in the NCAA tournament Elite Eight. Pangos, the senior, made them go. It was an award as much for that season as the glittering career he’d carved out in Spokane.

I understand that reasoning, and it is a big reason Collinsworth should be granted this season’s conference POTY almost as a retroactive measure. I mean, dude finished with SIX triple-doubles last season. The next-highest tally, on the national level, was one. Not only did Collinsworth equal the NCAA record for a single season, it hinted at a level of dominance unseen in many a year. Perhaps since Shaq.

Collinsworth is currently battling tendinitis in his knee, which has kept him out of BYU’s preseason games. Once he gets going, though, expect more of the same as we saw last year. It’ll be really, really cool.

Game of life, with a twist—and shout. Twitter: @alleywhoops

Game of life, with a twist—and shout. Twitter: @alleywhoops