I think there are a lot of (NBA) teams that could use guys like Kyle. I believe this offseason will be really important for him in order to improve. – Dave Rose
PROVO — While BYU basketball coach Dave Rose was optimistic that guard Kyle Collinsworth would be able to overcome major knee surgery going into last season, Rose wasn’t going to take any chances.
“I expected him to come back and be a huge part of our team because I have a lot of confidence in his determination and ability. But you never really know how (the knee) is going to heal,” Rose said recently. “This year, our roster was as large as any we’ve ever had and one of the reasons for that was to protect us if Kyle needed another year to recover.”
As it turned out, Collinsworth exceeded expectations.
He averaged 13.8 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists while shooting 47 percent from the field. He also recorded six triple-doubles while breaking the NCAA single-season record and tying the NCAA career record.
“It was amazing. There are a lot of adjectives that would describe the season that he had,” Rose said. “The fact he was able to be as consistent as he was without very many setbacks at all, but then to play at such a high level, that’s what made it remarkable. He was really good for the whole season.”
Rose said that he is counting on Collinsworth to make even more strides as the 6-foot-6 Provo native enters his senior season.
“He’s determined to have an even better year,” Rose said.
The coach added that Collinsworth's continuing development will help his chances of playing in the NBA.
“I think there are a lot of (NBA) teams that could use guys like Kyle. I believe this offseason will be really important for him in order to improve,” Rose said. “In reality, what Kyle needs is more time, a full summer with full activity. He’s going to improve in every aspect of his game because that’s the kind of guy that he is. What he really learned this year in the role he was able to play as our full-time point guard are the nuances of the game that will make him better — passing, ball-handling, shooting, and his ability to drive and get fouled. All those things will be things he spends time on, as well as strengthening his lower body and make it stronger.”
Last summer, Collinsworth was so focused on rehabbing his knee and getting back in shape that it didn’t leave him much time to refine his skills.
“It was a tough offseason for me because I couldn’t work on a lot of skills. I couldn’t work on ball-handling and doing things at full speed,” Collinsworth said earlier this year. “Everything was so slow, just working on my knee. I was able to work on free throws and that’s been a huge change in my game. I think just overcoming not really having an offseason and still having a better season than last year so far without having that offseason, that’s so huge.”
One aspect of his game that he improved dramatically was free-throw shooting. Collinsworth shot 73.6 percent from the free-throw line in 2014-15, up from 57.6 the previous season.
As Collinsworth leads the Cougars next season, he’ll be meshing with a bunch of new players.
One of them, freshman guard Nick Emery, is looking forward to taking the court with Collinsworth.
“I love his game. I love how he gets after it. He’s such a versatile player, he can almost do anything,” Emery said. “He can rebound and then push (the ball). That helps our offense get into a smoother rhythm. Kyle, like Tyler (Haws), is one of those guys who is going to give everything he can on the court. He works hard and he’s willing to put in the time to better his teammates as well.”