BYU basketball: Ranking the best guards in school history

The BYU Cougars have had great guard-play since the early days of the program. They have had great ball-handlers, gifted passers, lockdown defenders and some exceptional scorers. They have had plenty of all-conference and all-tournament selections, conference defensive player of the year honorees and conference player of the year award winners. They have also had their fair share of All-Americans and even two players who won the national player of the year.

This list ranks the best-of-the-best of those guards; the players that led the Cougars to greatness because of their fantastic play. These rankings are based on several factors, including production, conference and All-American honors as well as team success.

While the list ranks the top 25, there are a handful of other Cougar guards who deserved to be mentioned. These players just missed the cut, but made significant contributions to the BYU program: Austin Ainge, Harold Christensen, Nick Sanderson, Brian Taylor, Michael Vranes, Jim Miller, Scott Sinek, Belmont Anderson, Robbie Reid, Gary Batchelor, Jeff Congdon, Jim Jimas, Bob Capener and Ron Selleaze.

Here is my ranking of the best guards in BYU history. 

25. Matt Montague (1996-97, 1999-2002)

Montague didn’t look to score, but was a one of the best passers the Cougars ever had. His most productive season came as a senior when he averaged 6.2 points on 42.3 percent shooting from the floor. He added 7.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 30 games to earn all-conference recognition.

For his career, he averaged 4.2 points on 40.1 percent shooting with 4.7 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 122 games.

24. Trent Whiting (2000-01)

Whiting made a big impact on the Cougars even though he played less than one season. He was second-team All-Mountain West Conference after he averaged 14.2 points on 43.2 percent shooting from the floor, including 39 percent from beyond the arc and 81.9 percent from the free-throw line. He added 3.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.4 steals in 26 games.

23. Randy Reid (1989-1990, 1992-96)

Reid made big contributions each of his four seasons as a Cougar. One of his best seasons came in 1993-94 when he averaged 11.8 points on 51.7 percent shooting from the floor and 79.5 percent from the free-throw line. He added 2.7 assists and 2.1 rebounds in 32 games.

For his BYU career, he averaged 9.4 points on 42.7 percent shooting with 3,7 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 125 games.

22. Matt Carlino (2010-14)

Carlino had three solid seasons with the Cougars after he transferred from UCLA, and was a two-time all-WCC honoree. One of his best years came in 2012-13 when he averaged 11.5 points on 40.8 percent shooting from the floor. He added 4.8 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 36 games.

For his BYU career, he averaged 12.5 points on 39.7 percent shooting with 4.6 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 96 games.

21. Nate Call (1986-88, 1990-92)

Call was a fantastic lead guard who could distribute the ball and knock down the outside shot. One of his best seasons came in 1991-92 when he was second-team All-WAC and AP honorable mention All-American after he averaged 9.4 points on 52.1 percent shooting from the floor, including 52.9 percent from beyond the arc. He added 6.4 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 32 games.

For his career, he averaged 5.6 points on 46.4 percent shooting from the floor, including 45.6 percent from 3-point range to go along with 4.1 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 129 games.

20. Scott Runia (1976-1980)

Runia was an impressive distributor during his time as a Cougar. His best year came as a junior when he was second-team All-WAC after he averaged 11.6 points on 48.6 percent shooting from the floor and 87.7 percent from the free-throw line. He added 4.0 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 25 games.

For his BYU career, he averaged 9.6 points on 48 percent shooting with 3.7 assists and 1.9 rebounds in 110 games.

19. Andy Toolson (1984-85, 1987-1990)

Toolson was a smooth-shooting guard during his four years with the Cougars. His most productive season came in 1989-1990 when he was second-team All-WAC after he averaged 18.3 points on 51 percent shooting from the floor, including 49 percent from 3-point land. He added 6.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 30 games.

For his BYU career, he averaged 11.9 points on 48.7 percent shooting with 4.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 117 games. He was inducted in the school’s hall of fame in 2001.

18. Mike Hall (2003-05)

Hall got it done on both ends of the floor during his time at BYU. He was a two-time all-conference third-team selection and the 2003-04 MWC Defensive Player of the Year. One of his most productive seasons came as a junior when he averaged 12.8 points on 49.4 percent shooting from the floor. He added 3.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.4 steals in 30 games.

For his BYU career, he averaged 13.3 points on 44 percent shooting with 3.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.5 steals in 60 games.

17. Marty Haws (1984-85, 86-1990)

Haws was a gifted athlete who was a two-time All-WAC selection in his last two seasons. His most productive year came as a senior when he was first-team All-WAC after he averaged 18.5 points on 49.7 percent shooting from the floor, including 37.3 percent from beyond the arc. He added 4.1 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 2.2 steals in 30 games.

For his BYU career, he averaged 10.9 points on 49.1 percent shooting with 4.1 assists, 1.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 123 games.

16. Gary Earnest (1958-1961)

Earnest was a great player during his time with the Cougars. His best season came as a senior in 1960-61 when he was first-team all-conference after he averaged 16.5 points on 42.7 percent shooting from the floor and 78.1 percent shooting from the free-throw line with 2.3 rebounds in 26 games.

For his BYU career, he averaged 14.4 points on 37.9 percent shooting with 3.1 rebounds in 77 games.

15. Doug Howard (1967-1970)

Howard was a big-time scorer during his time in Provo and was a two-time second-team all-conference honoree. His best season came in 1969-1970 when he averaged a team-leading 18.2 points on 43.9 percent shooting from the floor and 85.3 percent from the free-throw line with 5.2 rebounds in 26 games.

For his Cougar career, he averaged 14.5 points on 44.4 percent shooting with 4.6 rebounds in 79 games.

14. Doug Richards (1970-74)

Richards was a scoring threat during all three of his seasons and was a two-time second-team All-WAC selection. His best year came as a senior in 1973-74 when he averaged a team-leading 20.3 points on 47.1 percent shooting from the floor and 78.9 percent from the free-throw line. He added 6.1 rebounds in 26 games.

For his BYU career, he averaged 15.6 points on 49.5 percent shooting and 4.9 rebounds in 78 games.

13. Jackson Emery (2005-06, 2008-11)

Emery was one of the best defensive players to ever wear a Cougar uniform. He was a three-time All-Defensive team honoree, a two-time second-team all-conference selection and the 2010-11 MWC Defensive Player of the Year. One of his best seasons came as a junior when he averaged 12.5 points on 48.7 percent shooting from the floor, including 43.1 percent from beyond the arc. He added 4.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.6 steals in 35 games.

For his career, he averaged 9.3 points on 45.5 percent shooting with 3.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.9 steals in 133 games.

12. Travis Hansen (2000-03)

Hansen had two really good seasons during his three years at BYU and was a two-time all-conference honoree. His best year came in 2002-03 when he was first-team All-MWC and Co-Defensive Player of the Year. That year, he averaged 16.8 points on 44.1 percent shooting from the floor. He added 4.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 32 games.

For his BYU career, he averaged 13.2 points on 43.4 percent shooting with 4.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 86 games.

11. Mark Bigelow (1998-99, 2001-04)

Bigelow had four solid seasons during his time with the Cougars. He was a four-time all-conference selection, including second-team as a freshman and as a senior. One of his best years came in 1998-99 when he was second-team All-WAC honoree after he averaged 15 points on 43.9 percent shooting from the floor. He added 6.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.4 steals in 28 games.

For his BYU career, he averaged 14.3 points on 43.5 percent shooting with 4.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.0 steals in 120 games.

10. Terrell Lyday (1999-2001)

Lyday had two great seasons in a Cougar uniform. He made the all-newcomer team as a junior and was first-team All-MWC as a senior. He also made the MWC all-tournament both seasons. His best statistical season came in 1999-2000 when he averaged 17.1 points on 45.2 percent shooting from the floor, including 39.4 percent from behind the 3-point line. He added 4.0 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.8 assists in 33 games.

For his BYU career, he averaged 16.7 points on 42.8 percent shooting with 3.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.5 steals in 66 games.

9. Bernie Fryer (1970-72)

Fryer had two impressive seasons at BYU. One of his best years came as a senior when he was first-team All-WAC after he averaged 18.2 points on 47.6 percent shooting from the floor and 76.1 percent from the free-throw line. He added 3.1 rebounds in 26 games.

For his Cougar career, he averaged 18.7 points on 46.3 percent shooting with 3.9 rebounds in 55 games.

8. Kyle Collinsworth (2010-11, 13-current)

Collinsworth is the best rebounding guard the Cougars have ever had. He has been a two-time first-team All-WCC honoree and a triple-double machine. One of his best seasons came in 2014-15 when he averaged 13.8 points on 47.2 percent shooting from the floor. He added 8.7 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.8 steals in 33 games and set an NCAA single season record for triple-doubles.

To this point in his BYU career, he has averaged 11.1 points on 48.4 percent shooting with 7.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.5 steals in 103 games.

7. Lee Cummard (2005-09)

Cummard made a significant impact with the Cougars and was a three-time All-conference performer. He was a two-time first-team Mountain West Conference honoree and the conference player of the year. One of his best seasons came in 2007-08 when he averaged 15.8 points on 56.9 percent shooting from the floor, including 47.2 percent from 3-point range. He added 6.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.0 blocks in 35 games.

For his Cougar career, he averaged 12 points on 53.5 percent shooting, including 43.1 percent from beyond the arc to go along with 5.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.0 steals in 131 games.

6. Tom Steinke (1954-57)

Steinke made a significant impact during his time with the Cougars. His best year came as a senior when he was named the Skyline Conference Player of Year and a second-team Helms All-American. That season, he averaged 19.7 points on 35.9 percent shooting from the floor and 84.7 percent from the free-throw line to go along with 3.8 rebounds in 26 games.

For his BYU career, he averaged 12.5 points on 34.8 percent shooting to go along with 2.3 rebounds in 55 games. He was inducted in the hall of fame in 1981.

5. Terry Tebbs (1953-56)

Tebbs was a great player during his time in Provo and was a two-time first-team All-WAC selection. His best year came in 1955-56 when he averaged 19.5 points on 40 percent shooting from the floor and 81 percent from the free-throw line. He added 4.4 rebounds in 26 games.

For his BYU career, he averaged 14.8 points on 38.3 percent shooting with 3.8 rebounds in 62 games.

4. Dick Nemelka (1962-66)

Nemelka had three good seasons for the Cougars and was a two-time all-conference selection. His best year came in 1965-66 when he was first-team All-WAC and a first-team Converse Yearbook and USBWA All-American. That year, he averaged 24 points on 52.3 percent shooting from the floor and 73.7 percent from the free-throw line.

For his career, he averaged 16.7 points on 47.8 percent shooting from the floor and 71 percent from the free-throw line in 78 games.

3. Tyler Haws (2011, 2013-15)

Haws was the most consistent scorer in school history. He earned all-conference honors during all four seasons, including first-team selections in his last three years. His most productive season came in 2013-14 when he was the West Coast Conference Player of the Year after he averaged 23.2 points on 46.3 percent shooting from the floor, including 40.4 percent from 3-point land. He added 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 33 games.

For his career, he averaged 19.6 points on 47.9 percent shooting with 4.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.0 steals in 139 games.

2. Jimmer Fredette (2007-2011)

Fredette had three great seasons during his four years with the Cougars. He was a three-time first-team All-MWC performer, the conference player of the year, a consensus All-American and won every major national player of the year honor as a senior. His best season came in 2010-11 when he averaged 28.9 points on 45.2 percent shooting from the floor, including 39.6 percent from 3-point land. He added 4.3 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 37 games.

For his career, he averaged 18.7 points on 45.5 percent shooting with 3.7 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 139 games.

1. Danny Ainge (1977-1981)

Ainge was a star from the moment he stepped on Campus. He was a four-time first-team All-Western Athletic Conference selection, earned All-American honors during three seasons and was the National Player of the Year as a senior. One of his best seasons came in 1980-81 when he averaged 24.4 points on 51.8 percent shooting from the floor. He added 4.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 32 games.

For his BYU career, he averaged 20.9 points on 52.6 percent shooting with 4.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists in 118 games.

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