The WCC awards have been decided, and BYU's Kyle Collinsworth took home the conference player of the year award. The awards are voted on by the league's 10 coaches, and while I have no way of confirming, I'm going to assume for the sake of this article that Domantas Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer were the two other players under serious consideration for the award. So, did the coaches get it right?
First things first, all three players had great seasons and are worthy of receiving the award. But for the sake of argument, let's look at their numbers (per sports-reference.com and Ken Pomeroy):
*PER = Player Efficiency Rating
Collinsworth's propensity for triple-doubles is well documented, and the BYU senior is the NCAA's all-time record holder for such statistical achievements with 11, including 5 this season. Despite strong and balanced contributions to his team in the traditional categories of points, rebounds, and assists, Collinsworth still falls firmly behind the Gonzaga pair in the advanced statistical metrics of PER, Win Shares, and Offensive Rating.
To put the win shares of Sabonis and Wiltjer into perspective, they rank 7th and 15th respectively out of all DI basketball players, and are the only teammates inside the Top 20. Sabonis in particular, is ranked ahead of Oklahoma's Buddy Hield--favored to win the Wooden Award, Duke's Grayson Allen, and Michigan State's Denzel Valentine. Both Sabonis and Wiltjer are ranked ahead of likely NBA #1 pick Ben Simmons.
There's no arguing that Collinsworth has had an excellent season, and his value to BYU was evident both times they played the Zags this season as the Cougars struggled mightily to get anything going without their star on the floor. But, such an argument is equally applicable to a Gonzaga team with limited depth and an inconsistent backcourt. It's terrifying to consider where Gonzaga would be this season without Wiltjer or Sabonis.
When assessing conference play only, it looks like the ranking should be (1) Wiltjer; (2) Sabonis; and (3) Collinsworth. Ultimately, while the statistics bear out that Collinsworth should have finished behind Sabonis and Wiltjer, it's likely that the Gonzaga duo split some votes and Collinsworth's record-setting triple doubles were enough to convince the coaches to give him the award.