Quietly and humbly, Kyle Collinsworth is crossing a portal into legendary basketball status.
I don’t know how far his basketball career will go; it’s tough to put him in the category of prolific scorers like Jimmer Fredette, Danny Ainge and Michael Smith in the annals of BYU history. But what he’s doing with this triple-double thing is astonishing.
As a player who does the nitty-gritty stuff, a guy who puts on a hard hat, picks up a lunch pail and goes to work doing the intrepid, dogged, spirited dirty work on a basketball court, it is easy to say there has never been his equal at his school, perhaps in the state of Utah.
Nine times he’s produced a triple-double game. That’s nuts.
He stands 6-foot-6, half of that placed on a rebuilt knee.
Yet he gobbles up rebounds like a Dyson vacuum. His artistry around the basket offensively is rugged, tough and creative, and he’s as confident as a tax collector. He scores over bigger defenders.
He’s fearless inside the paint and smart enough to find his teammates. He sets them up as smooth as a British butler.
This is no ordinary player. He is no ordinary athlete. He’s approaching all time.
Travis Hansen, former NBA and European League star, was one of BYU’s best all-around basketball players, a great defender and like Collinsworth had the versatility to play all five positions. Hansen, who had his jersey retired at Mountain View High this winter, is impressed with the Cougar senior who is still polishing his game.
“Kyle has a remarkable ability to affect any game,” said Hansen. “His size, strength and abilities are impressive.”
The rebounding part is tough enough, but scoring and getting the assists he’s getting is impressive. It has helped that he’s worked with two of BYU’s all time leading scorers in Tyler Haws and Jimmer Fredette, but it also has helped his numbers that he’s playing on a team that scores a lot in transition, attempts a ton of treys and is among the quickest at using the shot clock in college. He gets a lot of tries.
In Thursday’s win over Santa Clara, Collinsworth got his ninth triple-double. Yes, he went chasing it, and coach Dave Rose let him do it. Good for him. In that win, the senior from Provo High had 21 points, 11 boards and 10 assists. Even more impressive, he only had one turnover.
This ninth triple-double extended his NCAA record, further distancing him from LSU legend Shaquille O’Neal. Think about it. O’Neal in the key was Godzilla in shorts. Opponents bounced off Shaq like microwave popcorn. Shaq was 7-1 and 320 pounds; he had shoulders like the blade of a bulldozer, hands as big as satellite dishes and wore size 22 shoes.
Collinsworth is a strong guy with amazing balance and timing and a greyhound. His nose for the ball and reaction time on rebounds is amazing.
Collinsworth just passed Danny Ainge for second most assists in school history and needs 22 to surpass career leader Matt Montague. He’s closing in on becoming BYU’s all-time leading rebounder — and that’s quite a feat from a 6-6 guy.
In his last 40 games, he’s averaged a triple-double every 4.4 games, an astonishing figure posted on Twitter by Cougarstats.com on Thursday.
“Execution is a huge issue but it’s quite amazing what we're seeing,” said Rose of Collinsworth’s latest triple-double.
“It’s hard to have an effect like that on a college basketball game no matter where you're playing or who you're playing because it takes a really rare talent to be able to rebound at that clip, assist at that clip and score at that clip. I like it when Kyle is really engaged and aggressive, and I think that was a good combination tonight. He was engaged at both ends of the floor.”
Collinsworth has 15 regular season games left, plus the WCC tournament in Las Vegas and perhaps a few after that.
His No. 9 will surely get to 10, and it isn’t unreasonable to expect a dozen before he’s through.
This accomplishment is impressive.