Welcome back to the Player Power Rankings — the weekly feature where we rank each member of the BYU basketball team based on how they’re playing right now. The Cougars split their latest California road trip, gutting out a hard-fought victory over Pacific before dropping a tough one to Saint Mary's in Moraga. All in all, not a terrible week — a tight loss in Moraga will never sink anyone's ship — but still one that lacked the type of defining win that many fans feel BYU needs more of to qualify for the NCAA tournament. And there was no shortage of both good and bad individual performances, which is why we're here anyway.
As a reminder, here’s how this works: Each member of the Vanquish The Foe staff is given the opportunity to rank each player in coach Dave Rose's regular (or at least semi-regular) rotation, in order of performance, from 1 through 9. Each ranking is worth a descending number of points. For example, a first-place vote is worth 9 points, a second-place vote is worth 8, a third-place is worth 7, and so on. With 10 staff members voting this week, that means each player could potentially earn as many as 90 points (if he received all of the first-place votes) and as few as 9 points (if he received all of the 12th-place votes). We tally up the points for each player, rank them in order, and then I add some commentary and recent statistics to fill it all out.
Now, let's get ranking.
1. Tyler Haws (90 points)
Last Week: 1st (even)
This Week: 27.0 PPG (48.6% FG / 40.0% 3P / 85.7% FT), 5.5 RPG, 3.0 APG, 2.0 SPG, 2.5 TO
There's not a whole lot more anyone can say about Tyler Haws at this point. He's just doing ridiculous things out there. Scoring 27 points a night is no joke, but combine that with him expanding his production as both a rebounder and a distributor and it takes things to a completely different level. With Anson Winder out and precious little offensive help available elsewhere on a consistent basis, Haws effectively put the team on his back the last few games — and almost succeeded in single-handedly dragging them to an improbable win at Saint Mary's. There's no minimizing what Ty is doing right now, and anyone who tries should be summarily dismissed. He's literally making history nearly every time he steps on the floor, breaking record after record in a myriad of categories. What more can you ask for before you acknowledge his greatness?
2. Kyle Collinsworth (79)
Last Week: 3rd (+1)
This Week: 13.5 PPG (52.9% FG / 0.0% 3P / 90.0% FT), 8.5 RPG, 7.0 APG, 1.5 SPG, 1.5 TO
Just another week for Collinsworth — you know, except that he picked up his fourth triple-double of the season at Pacific, tying the NCAA record for most triple-doubles in a season. That's where we are with Kyle these days: him getting a triple-double is almost commonplace now. In fact, when he has anything less than a miraculous game, you can see the difference in BYU's performance. Collinsworth played well against the Gaels, but spent large portions of the game in foul trouble, which limited both his minutes and aggressiveness. The Cougars can't beat good teams without their jack-of-all-trades leader — and that's never been more clear.
3. Chase Fischer (71)
Last Week: 4th (+1)
This Week: 18.5 PPG (46.2% FG / 47.6% 3P / 60.0% FT), 3.5 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.0 SPG, 1.5 TO
Many (including this writer) have kvetched at one time or another about Fischer's consistency. Well, he's been pretty dang good recently, scoring 18 points or more in four of his last five games. Chase was born to play in the WCC. It's a finesse league with limited physicality and athleticism on the perimeter — all things that play directly into his trigger-happy style. Fischer is free to float around the perimeter and find holes in the defense's shell that allow him to launch, and if he gets a good look, it's probably going down. His ability to do this consistently in league play became much more important when Winder went down, and he's done well so far.
4. Skyler Halford (58)
Last Week: 5th (+1)
This Week: 13.5 PPG (50.0% FG / 50.0% 3P / 100% FT), 3.0 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.5 SPG, 3.0 TO
Here's another player who needed to step up big time to help fill the Winder-sized void in BYU's lineup — and Halford did not disappoint. Stepping into the starting lineup, Skyler took and made big shots, and did so at a very efficient clip. And as usual, he hustled all over the court, creating plays out of nothing on both ends of the floor. That's not to say he was perfect: in true Halford fashion, he made some particularly bone-headed decisions from time to time, and three turnovers per game is far too many for even the highest usage guard (which he is not). But all of that exists on the margins of what's most important — BYU needed Skyler Halford to be a basketball band-aid for the week, to help weather the storm of Winder's absence. He succeeded.
5. (tie) Dalton Nixon (39)
Last Week: 10th (+5)
This Week: 3.5 PPG (66.7% FG / 100% 3P / 100% FT), 3.5 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.5 BPG, 2.5 TO
Coach Dave Rose has been searching for answers to his team's post problems. None of his "true" bigs have been able to produce consistently on both ends and the glass, so he has turned to other options — one of whom is Nixon. The freshman set new career-highs for minutes played in both games last week, giving Rose exactly what he hoped for: strong rebounding, competent defense and the ability to stretch the floor. To be sure, Dalton is still a work in progress in many respects, but he's giving maximum effort and getting reasonably good results. That's better than any other big man can say right now, so expect to see him continue to get heavy minutes in the weeks ahead.
5. (tie) Corbin Kaufusi (39)
Last Week: 6th (+1)
This Week: 2.0 PPG (100% FG / ---% 3P / 100% FT), 1.0 RPG, 0.0 APG, 0.5 BPG, 1.0 TO
Being the highest ranked BYU post player right now isn't as lofty an accomplishment as it might sound. After all, it's all relative — and there's not a ton of great competition going on. I know I didn't put Kaufusi this high on my personal ballot, and that's largely because he (and his other post brethren) simply had a bad week. He's not a serious threat offensively and he hasn't figured out how to defend bigs one-on-one or rebound the basketball effectively yet. And perhaps worst of all, he can't manage to stay on the floor — he's leading the team with an astounding 9.1 fouls committed per 40 minutes played. None of this is to say that Corbin hasn't already come a long way or that he won't turn into a very good player sometime in the near future, but for the moment, he's not getting the job done in my book.
7. Jake Toolson (33)
Last Week: 7th (even)
This Week: 1.5 PPG (25.0% FG / 25.0% 3P / ---% FT), 1.0 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.0 SPG, 0.5 TO
One would have figured that Toolson would be ideally positioned to seize many of Winder's recently vacated minutes, but that never really came to fruition as he averaged just over nine minutes per contest last week. Jake is very much still in the rotation, but he's struggled to find his range and stay consistent of late — and while he's a pretty disciplined defender for a freshman, he's not good enough yet in any other areas to justify giving him big minutes if he's not making your offense more dynamic. The good news? These types of slumps are common for young players. All Toolson needs are continued opportunities and a little more time to keep ironing out the kinks. He'll get back there soon.
8. Luke Worthington (25)
Last Week: 7th (-1)
This Week: 0.0 PPG (0.0% FG / ---% 3P / ---% FT), 0.5 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.0 BPG, 0.0 TO
I've said about all I care to say about Worthington (and his post pals, in general) already in my article earlier this week. They can't contribute offensively, and that might not be such a big problem if they could rebound instead, but it appears none of them can do that either. One thing that Luke does bring that Kaufusi and Neilson don't is the ability to play solid man-to-man defense on the block. Sure, he still fouls too much a lot of the time, but Worthington deserves tons of credit for single-handedly taking Brad Waldow out of the game for much of the second half against Saint Mary's, after the rest of the team had struggled to stop the opposing big man. That type of shutdown defense can be a valuable commodity in the right matchup. Now if he could only rebound better...
9. Isaac Neilson (16)
Last Week: 9th (even)
This Week: 2.0 PPG (50.0% FG / 0.0% 3P / 100% FT), 2.0 RPG, 0.0 APG, 0.5 BPG, 0.5 TO
Different player, but a similar story to the one you've heard a couple times already. Like most of his fellow bigs, Neilson hasn't been good offensively, hasn't been good defensively and hasn't been good on the boards. That's a bad combination for a big man who's looking to get time. The glass-half-full version of events would indicate that, because no one else has stepped up either, it should be reasonably simple for a former starter like Neilson to find a way to regain his previous form and set himself apart at a position where BYU badly needs any type of positive production. Of course, that's much easier said than done, and Isaac hasn't given us a lot to feel confident about over the past few weeks. But then again, this is college athletics. Things tend to change quickly. For both Neilson's and the Cougars' sake, let's hope that maxim holds true again here.
Injured: Anson Winder, Nate Austin, Jamal Aytes
Out of the Rotation: Frank Bartley IV, Ryan Andrus, Josh Sharp, Jordan Ellis