BYU outlasted a resilient Loyola Marymount team tonight in California for the Cougs' first WCC road win. The game was a sloppy affair with both teams shooting poorly at times. But if this game revealed anything it was this: Noah Hartsock was the best player on the court. In fact Noah Hartsock may be the best basketball player in the WCC. In fact Noah Hartsock may be the best college basketball player west of the Mississippi.
Before you freak out about that assertion hear me out. I know Noah has some obvious limitations. Kid can't jump. He isn't fast. And he fails the ever-inaccurate "eye test" miserably. But something funny happens when Noah Hartsock starts playing: He kills opponents in every phase of the game. He drills practically every outside shot he takes regardless of the distance, he kills guys inside with flawless footwork, he blocks a shockingly high number of shots, he alters even more shots than he blocks, and he grabs a ton of rebounds. Basically Noah does it all. Most importantly he does it all Every Single Game.
This time, it was 21 points and 7 rebounds in 36 minutes, on a very efficient 9-12 from the floor.
I used to think Hartsock had no chance at playing in then NBA. I now think an NBA team would be lucky to have him. Noah is the consummate glue guy on a team. He's the perfect bench player type. In the NBA he would still be automatic with that 17 foot jumper -- you know, the one no one ever bothers to guard because they can't believe this balding soft looking white guy will hit it consistently -- but he would also battle inside defensively. Noah probably won't be drafted but any team lucky enough to land him as a free agent would get a steal. Even if he never plays in the NBA he should make a good living playing hoops overseas.
Noah was named the WCC player of the month today. Don't be surprised if that happens again. And don't be surprised it he wins the WCC POY award either. Last, don't be surprised if Dave Rose continues to insist BYU get the rock to Noah early and often.