At long last, Jonathan Tavernari has some company.

For years, the onetime BYU sharpshooter was the only Cougars player to win a conference Sixth Man of the Year award. So when current star Jaxson Robinson earned such honors from the Big 12 Sunday evening, no one was more excited for him than Tavernari.

To receive such recognition in the nation’s top-ranked college basketball conference is one thing, but Tavernari believes Robinson’s breakout performance this season merits even higher praise — he says that Robinson should be known as BYU’s greatest sixth man of all time.

“The team needs him more than my team needed me,” Tavernari told the Deseret News in a phone interview. “Jaxson is counted on way more than I was counted on because he’s arguably the team’s best player. I can’t think of a better person to join me in the Sixth Man of the Year club than Jaxson, mainly because of his sacrifices for the team and the program.”

Despite primarily coming off the bench, Robinson finished the regular season as BYU’s leading scorer with 13.9 points per game, shooting 43% from the field and 34.8% from distance. The senior’s scoring abilities have made him a valuable reserve weapon for the surprising Cougars while also garnering legitimate buzz as an intriguing NBA draft prospect.

“The fact that Jaxson is the leading scorer on this team and is still willing to come off the bench, and for him to be talked about on NBA draft blogs as someone who could play in the NBA, it’s unbelievable,” Tavernari said. “It shows his character and it shows the environment this coaching staff has created along with the chemistry of this team.”

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Tavernari averaged 11.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals across 132 games at BYU from 2006-10. He was named the Mountain West Freshman of the Year in 2007, made three all-conference teams and capped off his career with a Sixth Man of the Year trophy in 2010 for a Cougars squad that ranked as high as No. 12 nationally in the AP poll.

BYU guard Jonathan Tavernari celebrates after the Cougars defeated Air Force 54-49 to claim a share of the Mountain West regular-season title in the season finale at the Marriott Center on March 7, 2009. | Jason Olson, Deseret News

Only Jimmer Fredette made and attempted more 3-pointers at BYU than Tavernari, who drained 265 total shots from behind the arc at a 38% clip during his playing days.

The man called the “Brazilian Bomber” likes what he’s seen from Robinson offensively and feels there’s much more to applaud than just his shooting ability.

“His turnaround jumper is legit, his shooting is on point and he’s crafty with the ball, but what sets him apart most to me is his pace,” Tavernari said. “He doesn’t get rushed, he’s not easily sped up and he always plays at his own pace, which is incredibly difficult to do. It’s something that Aly Khalifa does, the game plays at his speed and everybody else reacts to it. I think Jaxson does that too, which is incredibly difficult for a shooting guard or small forward, so the way he does it, to me, is extremely impressive.”

Tavernari currently resides in South Jordan with his wife and two sons. He still follows BYU closely, often live-posting on social media during games and appearing sporadically on BYUtv’s basketball programming as a guest analyst and contributor.

Having played for the Cougars during the program’s Mountain West heyday — one of the most successful stretches in school history — Tavernari is thrilled to see BYU’s immediate success in the Big 12, expecting to see a convincing postseason push into the conference tournament and beyond.

“To be able to see BYU have this season with the type of national attention, rankings and success that we had during my four years and then even go above and beyond, it’s amazing to see and super fun to be apart of,” Tavernari said. “For us alumni, we can walk a bit taller with your chest puffed out, because you’re like ‘this is the program I gave my blood, sweat and tears to, and now they’re doing amazing things today.’”