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Dick Harmon: BYU's Kyle Collinsworth already working toward future comeback

Published: Saturday, March 15 2014 1:55 p.m. MDT

Brigham Young Cougars guard Kyle Collinsworth (5) celebrates the win over San Francisco Dons during the West Coast Conference Championships in Las Vegas Tuesday, March 11, 2014. BYU won 79-77 in overtime and advanced to the finals.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Kyle Collinsworth isn't moping around drowning in self-misery.

Even if he has a good case for clinical depression.

When Collinsworth dropped to the floor of the Orleans Arena during BYU’s WCC tournament final with Gonzaga last Tuesday, it was a sad and dramatic end to his remarkable performance in Las Vegas and his productive sophomore year.

He’d just thrown down a leaping alley oop dunk off a pass from Matt Carlino, and he was on his way to what appeared to be another double–double.

That all ended within seconds when the knee he’d injured at St Mary’s 28 days before had finally had enough. He will have ACL knee surgery on Tuesday.

After writhing in pain on the Orleans Arena floor, he hobbled off the court to meet with his parents and Dr. Kirt Kimball in the locker room. Before he came out to the bench with ice on his knees, his older brother Chris counseled him, “This will turn into something positive, I promise. Take what’s here and turn it into something good.”

Chris should know. After an injury-plagued BYU career, the 6-8 forward had to quit basketball. This came after he was attacked and stabbed while serving as an LDS missionary in Australia. He knows tough times.

“Chris has paved the trail for Kyle his whole life, through the good or bad, figured out the hard stuff, and Kyle’s been able to come along and conquer things,” said their mother, Alisa Collinsworth.

Ironically, when Kyle has his ACL repaired Tuesday, Chris will also undergo surgery at the same hospital to repair fractures in the opposite knee that sidelined his BYU career. It will be a family surgery day.

Whatever NCAA tournament Selection Sunday deals BYU, the Cougars will do the rest of March without Collinsworth. The tragic thing is, Collinsworth was enjoying the best week of his career. In Las Vegas, though nursing a sore knee, he was averaging 18 points, 11.2 rebounds and 55 percent shooting.

After he first injured his knee at St. Mary's, Coillinsworth worked tirelessly to rehab himselft so he could play and he did so through pain. He told his family he could run fast and jump high, "so I should be out there playing."

And play he did, helping BYU to finish 10-2 in its last 12.

Those who know him say the talented athlete has a remarkable ability to lock into the task at hand, no matter what the challenge. And that is his modus operandi now that he is injured.

“I talked to Kyle the other day and he had a great attitude. He was positive, not discouraged,” said his high school coach, Craig Drury.

The morning after BYU announced Collinsworth would have surgery to repair his knee and end his season, Alisa called her son to see if he needed a ride on campus or anything.

“No, I’m fine,” he said.

“What are doing,” she asked.

“I’m working out, lifting weights.”

“What?”

“Yeah,” he answered, “I’m going to have the best upper body you’ve ever seen.”

After the workout, he planned to meet with his academic adviser and schedule online summer classes so he could get a jump on school work now to free him for rehabilitation before fall semester.

That, in a nutshell, is Kyle Collinsworth. He’s always about the task at hand, the next thing. He is a goal-oriented, driven personality who refuses to be distracted.

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