The basketball season came to an abrupt end March 17 against the Rebels of Ole Miss. Now that the sting of defeat has begun to wear off, Universe reporters J Mason Nordfelt and Sterling Randle are ready to hand out their post–season awards.
The “Are we human, or are we dancer?” award for best moves off the court: Jake Toolson
Need I say more?
Nordfelt: I’ll say more. Toolson’s dancing here is excellent, but what’s really impressive is the fact that he started his little jig just as Skyler Halford took his shot, well before the ball went in! That kind of supreme confidence in his teammate is just incredible.
The “Rich Man’s MATTY–ICE” award for being a rich man’s Matt Carlino: Chase Fischer
Randle: When I got home from my mission in 2013 I was so excited to watch BYU basketball again. There were some familiar faces, like Tyler Haws, but there were a lot of new faces. Matt Carlino was one of these new faces. Carlino became my favorite player and the player I hated so much. I’d watch him jack up three after three. Sometimes he’d catch fire, like he did against Portland, and make a bucketload of threes. Other times we’d watch him shoot 35 percent from the field. I lovingly referred to Carlino as Matty Ice. I’d text a friend whenever Carlino did something, good or bad. After sometime my phone started autocorrecting to MATTY ICE. Now, to get to the actual award.
Chase Fischer wins the Rich Man’s-MATTY-ICE award for shooting lights out time and time again. Remember when he broke Jimmer’s 3-Point record? Yeah, me too.
Nordfelt: I also loved Carlino and was devastated when I heard he transferred (by the way, who makes a major announcement like that on April Fool’s day?). But Fischer helped me get over the loss of Carlino, so much so that I completely forgot about him and honestly didn’t miss him one bit.
The Jamaal Williams “why isn’t he playing?” award for being the most likable player we wish could’ve remained healthier: Anson Winder
Nordfelt: Winder had a tough senior season. Early on he looked like the team’s MVP, or at least Offensive Player of the Year, but then the injuries came and forced him to the bench for key games and minutes. Since he’s been my favorite BYU player over the past four years, I had to find some award for him. Most likeable fits Winder so well because he’s just the greatest guy you’ll ever meet. He may not have become the BYU superstar I hoped he would, but his contributions to the team were crucial and his off-court personality is terrific.
The Ezekiel Ansah “Crossover athlete of the year” award: Corbin Kaufusi
Nordfelt: The 2014-15 Cougars featured a handful of new faces, and many of them significantly impacted the team at different points during the season. Sterling already highlighted Fischer’s incredible contributions from the 3-point line; Toolson helped the team greatly on the court, apart from his dancing; and Ryan Andrus, Dalton Nixon and Isaac Nielson each provided much-needed depth on the Cougars’ front line.
But Kaufusi’s raw athleticism and consistent growth gives him the advantage over his fellow-newbies. His defensive efforts against the highly-skilled big men of the WCC really put him over the top. This all came from a guy who was supposed to have his hand in the ground as an OL for Bronco Mendenhall’s team. Would BYU have beaten Gonzaga or Saint Mary’s this season without Kaufusi’s help against Przemek Karnowski and Brad Waldow? Probably not.
The “Most Improved” award (sponsored by Kyle Collinsworth’s 2014–15 hair): Skyler Halford
Nordfelt: To be completely honest, I was among the many BYU fans that didn’t expect much from Halford this season. Boy was I pleasantly surprised. Statistically speaking, the only significant difference between his junior and senior seasons was his 3-point percentage – from 31.2% last year to 48.5% this year. But his knack for making huge plays at key moments, not to mention the visible energy he brought to the team, vaulted him from 2013-14’s seventh-best BYU player to easily the top three in 2014-15.
Randle: Two things I need to say. I’ve been #TeamHalford since 2007. I love how he carries the ball down the court at break-neck speed, pushes toward the basket, goes up for the lay-up and gets fouled. I get such a kick out of it.
Second, the runner–up for this award is Kyle Collinsworth hair. His locks have taken leaps and bounds from last year. During the 2013-2014 season they were a bench player, a best. This year his hair cut is first-team-all-conference-getting-picked-number-one-in-the-NBA-draft-and-I’m-going-to-tie-the-NCAA-triple-doube-record-while-I’m-at-it.
“Defensive Player of the Year” award: Josh Sharp
Nordfelt: When it comes to an offensive-juggernaut like BYU, defensive honors are often difficult to award. That was the case for most of this season. The Cougars struggled on defense much of the year and it wasn’t until Sharp entered the starting lineup that they began to be more consistent on that end of the floor. BYU won eight straight and ultimately made it’s case for NCAA tournament selection once Dave Rose decided to start Sharp. Again, many people didn’t necessarily believe that he would contribute much if at all to this BYU team, but he proved them wrong at the end of the season by recording half of his defensive statistics in the final 10 games.
“Offensive Player of the Year” award: Tyler Haws
Nordfelt: What more can I say about BYU’s all-time scoring leader that hasn’t already been said a hundred times over? His extraordinary consistency throughout his college career is well-known. His fierce work-ethic on and off the court is unparallelled. Haws is among the greatest on a long list of great Cougar basketeers, and it will be sad to see the team play without him next season.
“Most Valuable Player” award: Kyle Collinsworth
Nordfelt: Do you know how many college basketball players have ever recorded six triple-doubles in one season? The answer is one, and that player’s name is Kyle Collinsworth. What he did for BYU this season was simply miraculous, especially considering the serious injury he suffered in the WCC championship game last year. Nobody really knew when he would be able to come back after that ACL tear, or if he would ever be able to play to the same level again. If someone had told me a year ago what Collinsworth would do in 2014-15, there’s no way I’d have believed them. This was literally an unbelievable season for KC, and I can’t wait to see what he’ll do next year.