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Power Rankings: How BYU's bench bigs found their niche

Injuries and a need for rebounding opened up an opportunity for Ryan Andrus and Isaac Neilson — and they seized it.

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to the Player Power Rankings — the (normally) weekly feature where we rank each member of the BYU basketball team based on how they’re playing right now. Of course, I say normally weekly because the ranking took a some time off last week — after all, the Cougars had only played one game, so the sample size felt a little small. But have no fear: we're back at it this week, and with much more positive results to consider after the boys got back on track with two home wins over San Francisco and Santa Clara — including some surprising performances from some unlikely sources.

Another change worth noting this week: Rather than our usual process (where I have our entire staff vote on the rankings), I'm flying solo for this edition. This is probably because I'm drunk on the small bit of power I wield in this space — or maybe because I was just too lazy to send out a survey this week. Either way, all of the rankings you see here are purely reflective of my own opinions and biases.

Consider yourself warned. Continue at your own peril.

1. Tyler Haws
Two Weeks Ago: 1st (even)
This Week: 24.5 PPG (42.9% FG / 33.3% 3P / 94.1% FT), 3.5 RPG, 2.5 APG, 2.0 SPG, 1.5 TO

Tyler Haws is still awesome. Not only did he run his streak of games scoring more than 20 points to eight, but he also passed Danny Ainge for the No. 2 spot on BYU's all-time scoring list. That's not something one does unless they are a complete and total BOSS. And with his partner-in-crime Collinsworth either limited or out entirely, the pressure on Haws to carry the team was greater than ever — and he delivered. Yet again.

2. Skyler Halford
Two Weeks Ago: 4th (+2)
This Week: 10.5 PPG (40.0% FG / 50.0% 3P / 55.6% FT), 3.0 RPG, 4.5 APG, 0.5 SPG, 1.5 TO

When Halford is the second-best player on your team, you need to take a minute and evaluate what's going on. In this case, what's going on is that Collinsworth is hurt, Winder is still recovering from an injury of his own, and Skyler is legitimately playing really good basketball. He's shooting well from deep, has assumed Kyle's role as the team's primary distributor, and is even rebounding deceptively well from the guard line — all while continuing to play every minute like he's on some kind of amphetamine. It's not always pretty, but it's all coming up roses right now for Halford.

3. Anson Winder
Two Weeks Ago: Injured
This Week: 12.0 PPG (43.8% FG / 50.0% 3P / 53.8% FT), 4.0 RPG, 0.5 APG, 2.0 SPG, 0 TO

Winder clearly wasn't fully himself after returning from a knee injury that cost him a week of his senior season, but he still managed to perform close to his usually level. He seemed a step slow on both sides of the ball, and given the lingering nature of knee injuries, it's an open question whether or not it's realistic to expect him to ever really be fully health the rest of the way. Regardless, the Cougars need him on the court badly — particularly if Collinsworth won't be at full strength.

4. Chase Fischer
Two Weeks Ago: 3rd (-1)
This Week: 12.0 PPG (36.4% FG / 35.3% 3P / 100% FT), 2.0 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.5 SPG, 1.5 TO

Fischer lost his starting spot when coach Dave Rose mixed up the lineup for the Santa Clara game, and unwittingly found himself in a defining moment. He could either mope about his new bench role, or he could find a way to excel. Chase chose the latter, knocking down five threes in a strong performance against the Broncos and seemingly finding his stroke once again after he'd spent the last few weeks grappling with a hand injury. If Chase shoots the ball well, BYU almost always wins — so Cougar fans should pray he really has found his rhythm for the foreseeable future.

5. Kyle Collinsworth
Two Weeks Ago: 2nd (-3)
This Week: 8.0 PPG (36.4% FG / ---% 3P / 0.0% FT), 6.0 RPG, 5.0 APG, 2.0 SPG, 1.0 TO

Collinsworth falls to his lowest point in the history of these rankings due primarily to the fact that he only played in one of the week's two games. Kyle suffered through another tough performance against San Francisco, where he continued to struggle to convert easy looks that normally would be considered second nature for a player of his caliber, before taking a nasty spill in the close minutes that kept him out of the next game. Kyle now says he expects to be ready to play in the team's next game at Pepperdine, and we better hope he's right. The team isn't quite the same without him on the floor.

6. Ryan Andrus
Two Weeks Ago: Out of the Rotation
This Week: 3.5 PPG (50.0% FG / ---% 3P / 83.3% FT), 4.5 RPG, 0.0 APG, 0.0 BPG, 1.0 TO

And here's your first surprise entry of the week. After months of receiving almost zero playing time, Andrus burst onto the scene this week with two strong performances — including an 8 rebound showing against Santa Clara. He was active on the glass (particularly the offensive variety) and found ways to convert easy looks in the paint. That's more than we can say for most of BYU's bigs this year, so the true freshman figures to see a lot more time in the next few games if he can keep this up. He seems to have found his niche, and it just so happens to be one that the Cougars desperately need to fill.

7. Isaac Neilson
Two Weeks Ago: 9th (+2)
This Week: 2.0 PPG (33.3% FG / ---% 3P / 66.7% FT), 5.5 RPG, 0.0 APG, 0.0 BPG, 0.5 TO

Neilson is another player who has ably stepped into the post vacuum and applied himself well. He grabbed 9 rebounds of his own against the Broncos, and while his impact wasn't quite as obvious to the eye (or, perhaps not coincidentally, as surprising) as Andrus', he put in very solid work. He still struggles to defend, particularly against stronger bigs, but he's certainly proven worthy of his share of rotation minutes at the 5-spot. He's occupying that same niche as Andrus, and Rose has to feel fairly confident that at least one of them will be able to produce on any given night.

8. Corbin Kaufusi
Last Week: T-5th (-3)
This Week: 2.5 PPG (66.7% FG / ---% 3P / 33.3% FT), 3.5 RPG, 0.0 APG, 1.5 BPG, 1.5 TO

Kaufusi supplanted longtime starter Luke Worthington in the starting lineup this week, but he didn't necessarily take advantage of the opportunity. If anything, he was surpassed by Andrus and Neilson — both of whom's success figures to eat further in Corbin's minutes, if not necessarily his starting spot. His big problem? He can't stay on the floor. Kaufusi got into foul trouble in both games, and actually managed to foul out in only 22 minutes against the Dons. He may not have quite figured out how to play defense yet, but once he does, the pieces could come together very quickly.

9. Frank Bartley IV
Two Weeks Ago: Out of the Rotation
This Week: 3.0 PPG (66.7% FG / 50.0% 3P / 33.3% FT), 3.0 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.5 TO

After several weeks of lingering on the outskirts of the regular rotation, Bartley got into both games this week and made a strong case for his future inclusion in the lineup. He did a bit of everything, scoring the ball from inside and outside, as well as rebounding and passing well for his spot on the guard line — all while staying in control, a big problem of his in the past. Frank's athleticism could still prove to be an important tool for Rose off the bench, but he has to figure out how to harness it consistently first.

10. Dalton Nixon
Two Weeks Ago: T-5th (-5)
This Week: 0.0 PPG (0.0% FG / 0.0% 3P / ---% FT), 3.0 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.0 BPG, 0.5 TO

Nixon picked up his first career start against Santa Clara and proceeded to do Dalton Nixon things — i.e., play hard, dive on the floor, grab some rebounds, pass the ball surprisingly well for a big man, and perform reasonably adequately on defense, despite his youth. He falls to this spot because he hit an offensive cold streak this week and didn't pose a serious threat on that end, which threatens to make BYU more one-dimensional and much easier to guard. He keeps doing everything else right. Once his scoring game resurfaces, Dalton should be in good shape to have a serious impact.

11. Jake Toolson
Last Week: 7th (-4)
This Week: 2.0 PPG (20.0% FG / 0.0% 3P / 100% FT), 1.5 RPG, 0.0 APG, 0.0 SPG, 0.5 TO

Jake Toolson is a shooter who isn't shooting well. That's a problem. And it's even more of a problem when a shooter isn't shooting well and loses his confidence, which prevents him from shooting at all. That's kind of where Jake is right now. He's playing tentative and passing up open looks that BYU needs him to be taking. He can make shots at this level — he's already proven that. His confidence is just a little shaken right now, which isn't uncommon for freshmen at some point during their first season. But if he sees the ball go in the net a few times soon, that could change in a hurry.

Injured: Nate AustinJamal Aytes

Out of the Rotation: Luke Worthington, Josh SharpJordan Ellis