Mr. Basketball: Provo's Kyle Collinsworth deemed best of the best
Collinsworth made mark with clutch performances
PROVO — Both team-wise and individually, Kyle Collinsworth didn't have a lot to prove heading into his final season of playing basketball for the Provo High Bulldogs.
He'd already been part of two state titles and helped the Bulldogs to a runner-up finish last year. Also, he'd participated in the NBA Top 100 camp, was named to the prestigious Best of the West team, and was highly recruited by several of the country's top collegiate basketball programs before eventually committing to play for BYU next season — where he'll join his brother Chris and former teammate Brandon Davies.
Really, there were only two things left to accomplish this season — win a third state title and end his career being recognized as the top high school basketball player in Utah.
He came up a little short on the first when the Bulldogs lost a tough battle to Mountain Crest in the 4A semifinals. The final goal, however, is now taken care of, with Collinsworth's selection as the Deseret News' 2009-10 Utah Mr. Basketball.
"Being Mr. Basketball was something that I was hoping for, so it's nice to see all the hard work come through," Collinsworth said.
Even though the Bulldogs did not win a third state crown in the past four years, Collinsworth's playoff performance, nonetheless, is still a big reason why he is this season's Mr. Basketball. In three postseason games he averaged 27 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.
Collinsworth, for the season, averaged 23.7 points per game, eight assists, 10.4 rebounds, nearly two blocks and four steals. As a starter, he helped Provo win three region titles over his career with a 35-1 region mark. Overall, Provo was 65-8 with Collinsworth on the floor.
"He's one of the better players that we've had here in a long time, and we've had a lot of great players," Provo coach Craig Drury said.
Versatility is the word coaches speak of when describing Collinsworth's basketball skills. He reminds his coach of former Seattle Supersonics star Gary Payton, who had an all-star career because of his all-around game.
"The thing that makes him stand out is that you can't put your finger on what he is," Drury said. "His game is so versatile and so big, it's hard to defend. We used him this year as our one, two, three, four and five at different times. Offensively he'd bring the ball up the floor for us and then we'd lob passes for him inside like you would a four or five guy. Then at times we'd swing the ball around and get him shots like you would a wing guy ... And we don't have the statistics, but he's probably the all-time leader in assists here at Provo High School."
But defense might be his best basketball attribute.
"I'm pretty sure I've learned and developed some defensive principles here at Provo that will carry on with me to the next level," Collinsworth said.
The lasting mark he leaves with the Bulldogs might be his knack of making big plays in big games — whether it was a game-winning shot, a pass that set up a game-winning shot, a defensive play that prevented an opponent from making a game-winning shot, or a rebound that kept an opponent from getting a second-chance for a game-winning shot.
"He made big plays all the time," Drury said. "In order to win championships and be a championship-caliber team, you have to have a championship-caliber player that can make big plays for you. That's what Kyle did for us."
It was no secret heading into this season that Collinsworth's strength is getting to the basket. Through hard work in the gym, however, he's become a solid outside shooter as well.
"It wasn't part of my game, but it became part of my game toward the end of the year, and that's when I started scoring more," he said
Even though Collinsworth's high school basketball days are over, local fans will still see plenty of him as he takes his game across the street from Provo High to the Marriott Center. The Cougars are elated that Collinsworth is coming their way.
"We've only had a couple of guys here who have come in with his kind of accolades," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "He's really a versatile player. He can score the ball in multiple ways and he's going to be a terrific defensive player because of his lateral quickness. But what we like the most about Kyle is that he plays to win. Whatever he needs to do to make or help his team win, that's what he does."
Collinsworth, who carries a 3.78 GPA, also received another honor recently when he was selected to play May 1 in the High School Academic All-American Classic in Los Angeles.