In early August, small forward Chris Collinsworth became the first recruit to commit to play for the…
It was a just reward for a senior season that saw him lead his Bulldog team to the state championship. During the season, he averaged nearly 17 points a game, and raised his game during the state playoffs, when he scored 21 points a game. That included a 27-point, nine-rebound and four-assist game in the finals.
Collinsworth simply elevated his game when his team needed him most. And they needed him most late in the finals. Between the third and fourth quarters, Provo was losing 28-24 and they made the decision that they would not lose that game.
"After the third quarter after Adam Wallet hit that 3-pointer," Collinsworth said, "we came out and said this is it. This is our last hurrah and whatever we do now is what we'll remember for the rest of our lives. So we gave it our all and we ended up winning."
Provo outscored Payson 19-9 in the fourth quarter, with Chris scoring the first and last points of the quarter. His last basket was a 50-foot buzzer-beater to seal the 43-37 win. That shot, not to mention the state championship, was a bit of justification for the praise of his game. Collinsworth said that it was a good feeling to win the championship and helped silence "people that had their doubts."
Some people who do not doubt his ability are the BYU coaching staff. "Since I signed I can talk to them as much as I want. So we text here and there and they called me after every one of my state games," Collinsworth said.
He is not sure where coaches plan to use him next year. "They told me that I'll have a chance to compete for time, but I really think it will depend on how much I physically mature this summer."
Collinsworth is still young and will not turn 19 until next March. He plans to attend BYU and then serve his two-year LDS mission. So in reality, it might not be until the 2011-2012 season that Collinsworth will be counted on to contribute. That should give him time to add a little bulk to his 6-foot-8, 195-pound frame.
It is a frame that took its share of abuse over Collinsworth's senior season. He got poked in the eye against Orem, which led to a trip to the emergency room and an eye surgeon. He broke his wrist as a freshman, and this past season he played the majority of the year with an avulsion fracture to his right index finger.
"When I was playing it was really painful," Collinsworth said of the broken finger. "It would get hit all the time. It was bad. The ligament tore off a piece of the bone, so it was like a bone chip. It was a little fracture in there which caused swelling, so it was really swollen in there and I couldn't really move it. It was really stiff. It got hit all the time, like when I would try to go for a rebound, they would try and swipe it out of my hand and hit it."
Collinsworth said that he got fitted for a cast right after the state finals and would be in the cast for a few weeks. Doctors told him they did not think he would need surgery on it.
Once that is finally behind him, Collinsworth will work to get his shooting touch back. It is one facet he thinks suffered the most due to his hand injury.
"I didn't really get to do much [shooting] this season because I was in post because I hurt my hand. Then my team needed me in the post because I'm the biggest guy on my team. So I probably need to work on my guard skills and my shooting and dribbling again, [and] get them back up."
Getting them back up might entail returning to the form that saw him make 10 three-pointers in an AAU game last year. Collinsworth grew nearly a foot during his high school years, so he literally is a guard in a forward's body.
Collinsworth does not play any other sports, so once his hand is ready, he will be out on the court working to improve his game. He plans to take summer classes at BYU. Joining him will be friend and fellow-commit Nick Martineau. They will also work out with the basketball team during the summer.