Mike Terry, Deseret News
PROVO — Even though he's only 17 and has another year of high school ahead, Provo High's Kyle Collinsworth is savvy enough to know where he ranks as a basketball player.
Any doubt has been removed this summer as he's participated in several high-profile camps around the country and will participate in several more. Also, the invitations coming in from many of the nation's top college basketball programs to visit their campuses this fall is certainly serving as reinforcement.
Through it all, however, Collinsworth is learning that as good as his basketball skills are, there's still plenty of room for improvement. And if he can hone and improve on a few more skills, the basketball opportunities that lie ahead are what every young basketball star dreams of.
"I've had some great once-in-a-lifetime experiences this summer, and it's been great at getting my name out there and showing me what I need to get done," Collinsworth said.
Early last month the 2008-09 Deseret News 4A MVP, who averaged 19 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Bulldogs last season, attended the University of Kansas elite camp. On his way to Kansas he also made a stop at Arizona State to check things out there. Earlier this summer he attended the Utah State camp, and last week he joined his Provo High teammates at BYU's team camp.
But the most prestigious trip of all came two weeks ago when he spent four days at the NBA Top 100 camp at the University of Virginia, where NBA officials and former NBA players taught the nation's top high school players not only how to improve their basketball skills, but how to behave off the court as well. Collinsworth was coached at the invitation-only camp by former Detroit Piston guard Lindsey Hunter.
"That camp opened up my mind and showed me what my strengths are and what my weaknesses are and what I need to get better at because I was playing against the best players in the country, the same players I'm going to see at the college level," Collinsworth said. "Some of these guys are going to be the future players in the NBA, so now I know a little about the kind of game I need to have to be successful at the college level and maybe beyond that."
Collinsworth, the leading candidate for next season's Utah Mr. Basketball, is clearly the state's top prep recruit right now.
ESPN Insider rates him as an "immediate impact player" and he's listed in Scout.com's top 100.
At least a dozen top colleges — including all of Utah's top three — are after his services. Several have already made offers. Currently, the schools where he plans to officially visit late this summer and early fall are BYU, Kansas, Virginia, Stanford and Arizona State — but that list could change.
"I'm keeping things open. I'm going to go on my five visits with an open mind and then pick a school after that. But I want to make a decision before this season starts. I don't want it getting in the way of my game," he said.
In July, when the recruiting battles reach a boiling point, he'll participate in three more national camps in Cincinnati, Las Vegas and Los Angeles that are attended by coaches from every major university.
What he's looking for in a college are simple — a stable coaching staff, a style of play that suits his game and opportunity to play. Even though he could grow to 6-foot-7, he wants to play either the point guard or shooting guard.
"I want to handle the ball a lot. I don't necessarily have to bring it down, but I do want it in my hands a lot," he said.
To expect that kind of opportunity, however, Collinsworth recognizes he needs to become a better shooter and a better ball handler — a couple of issues that came to light at the NBA Top 100 camp.
"I need to have a more consistent shot and get better handles. Right now I'm really strong at driving to the hoop, but if I can get better at those other things then I don't think you could stop that. People like to back off me and take away my drive, so I want to get that problem taken care of and get that other part of my game down."
Watching older brother Chris, who played a year at BYU before leaving on an LDS Church mission to Australia, go through a similar recruiting process a few years back has helped Kyle deal some with the increasing pressure and attention.
"Kyle is very grounded and really hasn't let any of this impact him much," said his father, Jeff Collinsworth. "He's not letting the hype get to him."
Like Chris, Kyle also plans to serve a mission after one season of college ball. There's a chance the two could be college teammates for the 2010-11 season — where Chris would be a sophomore and Kyle a freshman. Right now, however, he's more interested in his older brother's advice than whether they'll both be wearing the same college uniform some day.
"He's told me to be patient about the whole thing and listen to what all the colleges have to say," the younger Collinsworth said.
"And of course my parents are giving me some advice, and it's all good. But at the end of the day they let me know it's up to me."