Loyal Cougars

The cerebral Kyle Collinsworth

Over the next month, Loyal Cougars will profile each member of the 2013-2014 BYU basketball team as part of our season preview. These profiles may include stats, roster breakdowns, off-the-statbook observations, or memories and first-hand experiences. In this first installment, Evan Hall examines Kyle Collinsworth’s mindset — both on and off the court.

I saw Elder Collinsworth at the MTC once.

It was a few weeks after I had been hired to teach there, and I was walking from one building where I had just had a meeting to another building where I was going to teach some missionaries. He was sitting on a bench just outside the main devotional building. The bench faced the mountains, as all Provo benches should, and he was staring intently at them.

He looked thoughtful and absorbed and more than a little earnest, and his companion sat next to him, disinterestedly perusing Preach My Gospel. I glanced at his name tag as I walked past to verify it was him, and then saw his expression, and then, I’m embarrassed to admit, I thought about his free throw. The one he missed, not the one he made of course, in the waning moments of the Sweet 16 game against Florida — and because I’m a BYU basketball fan and not a friend of Kyle Collinsworth or even a particularly considerate person, I wondered if he was thinking about the same thing.

So yeah, maybe missions make philosophers out of all of us, and maybe the MTC is sometimes the sweet-mercy-something-please-happen-right-now kind of boring. But when I saw him there, I felt like I understood and appreciated for the first time the way Kyle Collinsworth plays basketball, and the way the game acts on him and the way he acts on the game.

In a word, Kyle Collinsworth in that moment seemed cerebral in the same way he seemed cerebral every time I watched him play — or more accurately, every time I watched him play guard. Unfortunately, when you’re playing a position that requires frequent and quick decision-making, maybe cerebral is not such a good thing.

Of course, Chris Paul plays point guard and Chris Paul is both cerebral and really good at playing point guard. But recall for a moment one of those frustrating Kyle Collinsworth memories I’m sure you have, because usually they involved some sort of hesitation, or reluctance, or uncertainty with the ball, and those kinds of things seem to stem from just the sort of over-wrought thoughtfulness and under-instinctual point of view that I think I saw on his face on that bench at the MTC.

Obviously I’m projecting and imposing on him things that probably aren’t there, because I do not know him personally, and because the one time I saw him when he wasn’t on a basketball court, I naturally thought about all those times I did see him on a basketball court. But there’s still the thing of that missed free throw in the Florida game, which came at the end of a tournament run in which I was for the most part impressed with the small/power forward version of Kyle Collinsworth.

He had rebounded when, in the absence of Brandon Davies, BYU needed rebounding, and he had played solid post defense when BYU had needed solid post defense, and it all seemed so much easier for him, so much more natural and appropriate. There was no more inert, awkward Kyle Collinsworth. Only a Kyle Collinsworth who understood his role — a more limited but perhaps more important role on that team — and who acted only within the confines of that role.

But then he stepped to the line, and I remembered Guard Collinsworth, with his mind, always churning, always considering the potential for bad, and with that free throw form, and I kind of knew then, even before he released, that he was gonna miss one of the two. Not both, because even in his worst kind of cerebral moments, Collinsworth was and is a competent, talented basketball player — but still one. And he missed, and a few months later, his parents dropped him off at the curb of the MTC, he slapped on a name badge, and then he sat on a bench, staring at the mountains.

This is my Kyle Collinsworth narrative, and I tell it to myself sometimes as a way of making sense of the extremely small number of facts and memories I have about Kyle Collinsworth the human being and the fairly extensive number of facts and memories I have about Kyle Collinsworth the basketball player. It’s almost certainly a fiction, and an uncomplicated one at that.

But then, it’s also useful — at least in the way it helps me appreciate Kyle Collinsworth, and in the way it helps me appreciate the moments when, for him and for me, responsibility and capability are perfectly aligned.

Want more hoops action? Get your fix by reading more player profiles from our 2013-2014 season preview:

Next Level: Cougars need polarizing Matt Carlino to make ‘the leap’
BYU newcomer Frank Bartley knows the importance of family
Non-traditional Anson Winder a perfect fit for BYU system
The Tyler Haws Offense: Can BYU’s star scorer carry them alone?
What’s Cooler Than Being Cool: Nate Austin and the 3-point shot
Freshman Eric Mika expected to fill big shoes
Josh Sharp: Come for the dunks, stay for the dirty work
Skyler Halford: More than just a deep threat
Happy Days: Luke Worthington and the power of fun


  1. Dave

    September 30, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    This is literally the worst article I have ever read. Not only is it incredibly poorly written, but the entire concept of it makes absolutely no sense. I want my 2 minutes back.

    • Elliot

      September 30, 2013 at 4:45 pm

      seems like you have a fun life Dave

      • Dave

        September 30, 2013 at 5:27 pm

        I do, that’s why those 2 minutes were too valuable to waste on this garbage.

        Glad you see it my way.

    • Earl N.

      October 1, 2013 at 2:42 pm

      I agree. What in the world is the point? You saw Kyle looking at mountains and that is supposed to be an indicator of what type of basketball player he is? Please write something more interesting.

    • Kaysvillecougar

      October 7, 2013 at 11:16 pm

      I can’t agree more.

  2. Ryne Mac

    September 30, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    I agree. Terrible article. What does this have to do with 2013. Get rid of this kid writing this article. He’s terrible.

    • Brett Hein

      September 30, 2013 at 4:25 pm

      What is there to analyze about KC in 2013? Nobody knows what position he’ll play or if he even has his game back. All we have of him are memories.

      • Dave

        September 30, 2013 at 5:33 pm

        How about analyzing something related to basketball?!

        Talk about areas he excelled at as a freshmen, talk about areas in which he needs to improve…

        Analyze possible roles he could fill on the 2013, and how his role will be different vs. the 2011 team.

        Talk about adjustments Coach Rose could make now that KC is back in his system.

        Oh, look – three ideas actually involving basketball.

        You’re right; that was crazy hard.

        • Dave

          September 30, 2013 at 5:36 pm

          Heck, I’d even settle for the obligatory article about what it takes to get game-ready after a two year layoff…but for Jimmer’s sake, at the very least make the article readable.

          I felt like I was on acid reading that tripe.

        • Brett Hein

          September 30, 2013 at 6:02 pm

          So — you’d like to comfortably read an article that’s been written hundreds of times about a returning missionary trying to get back in shape, from someone who has no experience trying to do so?

        • Barry Humphreys

          September 30, 2013 at 8:25 pm

          And the reason you weren’t invited to write the article is….? Someone took on the challenge of ‘doing’ while someone else simply stood back and criticized. Which role is more revealing?

  3. Thom

    September 30, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    Very interesting and thought provoking read and in a day of the mundane writings of others this was a breath of fresh air.

  4. John Chiara

    September 30, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    Not much of an article. This wouldn’t even qualify as a decent post on cougarboard.

  5. Nathan Mathews

    October 1, 2013 at 4:31 am

    Actually from what I have read it would have been one if the best posts ever on CougarBoard, LOL

  6. Trevor Matich

    October 1, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Nice take Evan. A more interesting take than anything I’ve ever read on bleacher or cougarboard.

    • Sanpete

      October 1, 2013 at 11:08 am

      Well, there really isn’t much meat on that very thin bone. As for Bleacher Report and CB, there are some excellent posts, and I’ve learned a lot (not being a former player with good connections) at CB in particular. You just have to sort through a lot of dreck to find them, and it’s a close call whether it’s worth the trouble.

    • John Chiara

      October 1, 2013 at 2:48 pm

      It is interesting in the way an essay for your creative writing class is interesting. It, however, fails to bring anything new to the table. It is a rather strange way of saying that Kyle did a good job as a stop-gap forward, but seemed to struggle with the speed of playing point guard in college. Unfortunately, it took several paragraphs to do so.

      Profiling a player typically is more informative. Statistics, references to in game performance, or updates on his conditioning post mission all would have been helpful.

      This didn’t qualify as a profile, more of a writing exercise.

  7. Kaysvillecougar

    October 7, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    What I remember about Kyle Collinsworth is that he was a solid all around ball player before his mission. He was a great rebounder, good ball handler, understood angles and finished well. He will be an asset to the team this year. I’ve thought it will be great to have he and Haws playing together. They are both fundamentally sound. This is going to be an interesting b-ball season. It will be a great feat if we dance this year, but it should be fun to watch Kyle get back into playing shape and see how the young bigs develop. The future is really bright for BYU b-ball for the next 6 yrs. if not more!

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