Kyle Collinsworth returned from his LDS Mission in Vladivostok, Russia, with the self-imposed nickname 'Big Russia'. He also returned with more maturity, patience, and determination. But Kyle’s personal growth wasn’t the only change that occurred during those two years- he returned to a team with completely different teammates, playing in a different conference.
Kyle graduated from Provo High School with a host of basketball honors, and was recruited by teams like Kansas, Oklahoma State, Marquette and Virginia. Take a look at this week’s Top 25 and you’ll see what that means.
Collinsworth had 27 starts as a freshman. He averaged 5.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists, and joined his teammates in the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars made it to the Sweet 16 where they lost to Florida State in overtime.
Not having played basketball for two years, one would expect Collinsworth to be a little rusty. But the rust is wearing off, and the season is looking great for Kyle, who is currently averaging 8.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists.
Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com has named Collinsworth as one of the nations top 25 breakout players, and Seth Greenberg, also of ESPN.com, has Kyle at the No. 2 spot on his list of the best 'blend' players. Greenberg says that Kyle is "one of the most versatile players in college basketball". He has the ability to play four positions offensively and defensively, and is a small forward with a high basketball IQ and unique skill set. Collinsworth is big and strong enough to defend power forwards, evidenced by his eight rebounds per game. He’s also skilled enough to hand out over six assists a game.”
According to teammate Anson Winder, Collinsworth is “probably our most versatile player. It’s good to have him back. He makes everything so much easier with all the things he does. He can shoot it, rebound, get to the rim, he plays defense. He’s going to be a guy that leads us this year. We’re going to depend on him a lot.”
He also has a great personality and sense of humor, as seen on his Twitter page:
Come watch Kyle and the rest of the Cougars as they play Utah State this Saturday (11/30) at Energy Solutions Arena. Tip-off at 7:00 pm.