It started simply enough: the day after BYU's basketball season ended, someone tweeted me about how much the Cougars will miss Noah Hartsock, and I agreed, saying he was one of the best BYU players I had ever seen as the team's radio broadcaster.
Which then got me wondering...since I began calling games on the radio in 1996-97, who are the best BYU players I've seen?
As a result, I came up with a list of 14 players; a typical 13-man roster, plus one, for selective latitude and roster flexibility.
I created the roster as I would try to draw up a team, with balance at each position, realizing certain players could play multiple positions. Different players would bring different skill-sets to each spot on the floor.
No active players (on the 2012-13 roster or currently serving an LDS mission) could be listed.
Of the 14 players picked:
14 were all-conference selections
11 were multi-year all-conference selections
5 were three-time all-conference selections
5 were conference Players of the Year
4 were NBA Draft selections
3 were conference Defensive Players of the Year
12 played or are still playing professional basketball
11 led BYU in scoring in at least one of their seasons
11 are members of BYU's 43-member "1,000 Point Club" (the three exceptions were juco transfers who played two seasons or less)
6'2"; 2007-08 through 2010-11
BYU's alltime scoring leader with 2,599 points and a consensus 1st team All-American and National Player of the Year in 2010-11. MWC Player of the Year in 2010-11, three-time 1st team all-MWC. BYU's alltime leader in 3PFG attempted and made, and free throws made. Single-season BYU record holder for points per game (28.9). Has six of the eight highest-scoring games in BYU history, including the all-time high of 52 points. Also holds single-game BYU records for field goals attempted and made, and free throws attempted and made.
One of only six BYU players to participate in four NCAA Tournaments. 10th overall draft pick of the Sacramento Kings in 2011.
Some might view this as a controversial pick, since he only played 26 games as a Cougar, but Whiting was simply one of the most exciting and competitive guys I've seen play, and his legacy status was only limited by his tenure. A transfer from Utah, he became the third member of BYU's "Big Three" in 2000-01, leading the Cougars to the NCAA Tournament after a six-year absence from the Big Dance. Named All-MWC 2nd team in 2000-01.
Teaming with Mekeli Wesley and Terrell Lyday, Whiting averaged 14.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.3 apg and 1.4 spg in his shortened season. Whiting is still playing professionally overseas, where his shooting prowess has been on display in games like a 43-point outing for his club team in Italy.
6'3"; 1999-00 through 2000-01
A transfer from Fresno City Community College, Lyday started all 66 games he played at BYU, averaging 16.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg and 1.9 apg. 37th in career scoring at BYU with 1,105 points. All-MWC 1st team in 2000-01.
Lyday's junior season featured one of the best two-game, pre-Jimmer performances in recent BYU history, as he scored 30 and 35 points in back-to-back road wins at Utah State and UNLV, in January of 2000. His senior season ended with 20 consecutive games in double-figure scoring, including a 32-point outing v. Wyoming in the MWC Tournament. BYU would go on win that tourney--the last tourney title for BYU.
6'3"; 2005-06, 2008-09 through 2010-11
BYU's alltime steals leader, breaking the record held by Danny Ainge. 3-time MWC All-Defensive team selection and 2010-11 MWC Defensive Player of the Year. 2-time All-MWC 2nd team. Third alltime in BYU 3PFG made and attempted. 22nd in BYU career scoring with 1,235 points, averaging 9.3 ppg over four years of play.
6'7'; 1998-99, 2001-02 through 2003-04
The first linchpin recruit to commit to Steve Cleveland's rebuilding effort at BYU, Bigelow was named WAC Pacific Division Freshman of the Year in 1998-99, a season in which he averaged 15 points and six rebounds per game. All-WAC 2nd team in 1998-99, All-MWC 3rd team in 2002-03 and 2nd team in 2003-04.
Still holds BYU's single-game record for steals, with nine against Arizona in 1998-99. 9th on BYU's career scoring list with 1,715 points, he averaged 14.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists over 120 games (119 starts).
6'6"; 2000-01 through 2002-03
A transfer from Utah Valley, Hansen played through an injury-shortened sophomore season before starting all 62 games of his junior and senior seasons and leading BYU in scoring both years.
All-MWC 2nd team in 2001-02 and 1st team in 2002-03. MWC Defensive Player of the Year in 2002-03. 32nd on BYU's career scoring list with 1,137 points, he averaged 13.2 points and 4.8 rebounds. Drafted 37th overall by the Atlanta Hawks, Hansen went on to star overseas, and recently concluded his professional career.
6'3"; 2003-04 through 2004-05
A transfer from Dixie State College, Hall was named All-MWC 3rd team in 2003-04 and 2004-05. MWC Defensive Player of the Year in 2003-04. BYU's leading scorer in 2004-05, Hall averaged 13.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.5 steals over his 60-game BYU career.
A ferocious dunker and cat-quick defender, Hall went on to play professionally in Europe and Japan, and is currently BYU's Director of Basketball Operations.
6'7"; 2005-06 through 2008-09
MWC Player of the Year in 2007-08, All-MWC 3rd team in 2006-07, 1st team in 2007-08 and 2008-09. AP All-American Honorable Mention in 2007-08. 11th on BYU's career scoring list with 1,569 points, he averaged 12.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists over 131 games (116 starts).
For a wing, Cummard shot an impressively high 54% from the field; he was a 43% three-point shooter and made 84% of his free throws.
6'8"; 2008-09 through 2011-12
Named WCC All-Conference in 2011-12, Hartsock led BYU in scoring at 16.8 ppg, while shooting 57% from the field and 84% from the free-throw line. Second on BYU's alltime blocked shots list, he is 26th on BYU's alltime scoring list with 1,191 points, despite not averaging in double figures scoring until his senior season. One of the six BYU players to play in four NCAA Tournaments.
Hartsock nearly doubled his scoring average from his junior to senior seasons, having filled a complementary scoring role during his first three campaigns. One of the toughest players to play at BYU, Hartsock suffered a late-season knee injury that greatly impacted the 2011-12 Cougars, yet one of his most impressive performances came post-injury when he scored 23 points in leading BYU back from down 25 to defeat Iona in the NCAA Tournament's "First Four"--the largest comeback in tournament history.
6'6"; 2004-05 through 2006-07
Like Hartsock, "KT" didn't truly emerge as a scoring star until his senior season, when he led BYU back to the NCAA Tournament in 2006-07, averaging 17.4 points and 6.0 rebounds in the process.
A juco transfer from South Plains College, Young became a nearly unstoppable force in the post late in his final season, peaking with a 34-point effort (13/18 fg, 8/11 ft) in an MWC tourney loss at UNLV. 40th on BYU's career scoring list with 1,068 points. MWC Player of the Year in 2006-07. All-MWC 3rd team in 2005-06 and 1st team in 2006-07, AP All-American Honorable Mention in 2006-07.
6'6"; 2006-07 through 2009-10
A different kind of "4" man, JT is one of six BYU players to play in four NCAA Tournaments, and is second alltime in BYU 3PFG attempted and made. 12th on BYU's career scoring list with 1,519 points, he averaged 11.5 points and 5.0 rebounds over 132 games.
MWC Freshman of the Year in 2006-07, Sixth Man of the Year in 2009-10. All-MWC 3rd team in 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10. A member of various Brazilian national teams, Tavernari is playing professionally in Italy.
6'9"; 1997-98 through 2000-01
A small center on this 14-man team, Wesley stands 8th on BYU's career scoring chart with 1,740 points over 115 games (112 starts). Averaged double-figure scoring in all four seasons at BYU, capping his career with a senior season in which he scored 17.2 ppg in leading BYU to the 2001 NCAA Tournament.
2000-01 MWC Player of the Year, 1997-98 WAC All-Newcomer team, All-MWC 2nd team in 1999-2000, 1st team in 2000-01, AP All-American Honorable Mention in 2000-01.
6'11"; 2002-03 through 2003-04
A juco transfer from Arizona Western, named All-MWC 3rd team in 2002-03 and 1st team in 2003-04. MWC Player of the Year in 2003-04. Led BYU to the NCAA Tournament in both seasons he spent in Provo. AP All-American Honorable Mention and Basketball Times All-American 2nd team in 2003-04.
Araujo finished with 935 points over 62 games, all of which he started. In his senior season, he averaged a double-double, at 18.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. A 57% shooter, Rafa was also a deft passer, favoring a behind-the-back drop-off in the post. Drafted 8th overall by the Toronto Raptors in 2004, Araujo is playing professionally in Brazil.
6'11"; 2004-05 (redshirt) through 2007-08
An NBA Draft early entrant after his junior season (drafted 46th overall by the Detroit Pistons in 2008), Plaisted is 17th on BYU's career scoring list with 1,372 points, averaging 13.3 ppg and 6.7 rpg over 103 games.
MWC Freshman of the Year in 2005-06, All-MWC 2nd team in 2005-06 and 2006-07, 1st team in 2007-08. Shot 54% for his career and averaged a blocked shot per game. While free throws were not his strength, his finest moment as a Cougar came when he hit two free throws with five seconds remaining in overtime to beat New Mexico 70-69 on Feb. 28, 2008--the last time BYU would win in The Pit.