Kyle Collinsworth opened the 2014 West Coast Conference tournament with a season-high 23 points and career-high 16 rebounds against Loyola Marymount. His 18 points and 12 rebounds helped propel the Cougars past San Francisco in in the tournament semifinals. Collinsworth was playing some of the best basketball of his career up to that point.
But that was before one play changed everything.
Playing against Gonzaga in the championship game, Collinsworth planted his foot, twisted and moved right.
“It felt like the worst pain I’ve ever felt,” Collinsworth said in a video documenting his recovery produced by Hillsdale Mag.
The road to recovery hasn’t been easy, but it gave him the opportunity to prove naysayers wrong.
Some people thought Collinsworth should redshirt and spend 10 months recovering to be back for conference play. He said no one talked about him coming back to play in the first game of the upcoming season.
“I wasn’t supposed to really come back,” Collinsworth said in an post-practice interview. “And if I did, I wasn’t supposed to be as good.”
He used the negative talk as motivation and he rebounded from the ACL injury to make quite an impact on the court during his final two seasons. Collinsworth contributed 456 points, 286 rebounds and 197 assists as a junior. He went on to record 567 points, 303 rebounds and 275 assists his senior season.
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Collinsworth has also dominated the college basketball triple-double world for the past two seasons, with 12 career triple-doubles, averaging 16.6 points, 11.3 rebounds and 11.3 assists in those games. Collinsworth also holds the NCAA single-season triple-double record with six games — a feat he accomplished two years in a row.
The 2015 WCC Player of the Year became BYU’s all-time leading rebounder on Jan. 31, 2016, in the Cougars’ 88-77 win over Pepperdine. Collinsworth described the accomplishment as surreal and now has 1,047 total rebounds.
“I’m the best rebounding point guard in the country and that’s just how I’ve always played,” Collinsworth said following the Pepperdine game. “No one’s going to rebound better than me for my position.”
Collinsworth also leaves BYU as the all-time assist leader, with 703 in his career. His 1,707 career points gives him the No. 10 spot on BYU’s all-time scoring list.
He said goodbye to the Marriott Center in his final home game on Tuesday, March 22. He put up 10 points, five rebounds and four assists in BYU’s 88-82 win over Creighton in the National Invitation Tournament quarterfinals, despite playing with the flu.
Following the win, junior forward Kyle Davis said Collinsworth “played really well, considering how sick he was,” adding that it was a “testament to how much of a leader and fighter” Collinsworth is.
BYU men’s basketball head coach Dave Rose said it was fun to see the team carry their leader.
“To be able to have the other guys pick him up through to another game, I think that says a lot about the group, the camaraderie, the chemistry and the character of our guys,” Rose said.
Collinsworth returned to BYU for his senior season after receiving interest from NBA teams last offseason.
“I talked to some people, I had some options,” Collinsworth said at Media Day in September 2015. “Age is a big concern for me because obviously I went on a mission. One more year will do a lot for me.”
Collinsworth’s draft stock has arguably taken a hit after this season. He didn’t improve on his jump-shooting, and his speed is still an issue with NBA scouts. Draft Express has him ranked as the No. 32 senior in the nation. Some have compared him to Golden State Warriors point guard Shaun Livingston. The two are similar in size and feature near-identical skill sets.
But regardless of what the future holds, Collinsworth is ready. He’ll participate in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in Chicago on April 13–16, then take things from there.
It isn’t the first time Collinsworth has dealt with doubters. He said his recovery gives him confidence.
“Whenever things get tough, I just look back to those days and I know I can push through anything,” Collinsworth said.