BYU’s Shaylee Gonzales is a big reason why the Cougars are 21-2 and a West Coast Conference-best 11-1.
In BYU’s rout of Saint Mary’s over the weekend, the redshirt sophomore scored a career-high 35 points on 14-23 shooting, including 2-5 from beyond the arc. She also added six assists and six steals. After her performance, Saint Mary’s associate head coach Allyson Fasnacht had high praise for the Arizona native.
“I think she’s the best player in our league,” Fasnacht said.
In a matchup against Pepperdine last week Gonzales had a double-double, scoring 16 points and grabbing 13 rebounds while dishing out six assists. When the Cougars took on Gonzaga earlier this season, Gonzales scored 11 fourth-quarter points to lead the team to victory.
So far Gonzales is averaging 18.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game. She is shooting 51 percent from the field, 29 percent from three-point land and 83 percent from the charity stripe. She is one of only two players on the Naismith Trophy midseason team to come from a team outside of a power five conference. The other is Kiersten Bell, who plays for Florida Gulf Coast.
Gonzales is a player that can score in many ways: on the drive with pull-up jumpers, by getting offensive rebounds and a put back, and she makes steals and turns them into easy layups. She is effective because she is aggressive, and never stops moving without the ball.
As a freshman, Gonzales led BYU in scoring with 17 points per game and earned All-WCC first-team honors. Before the 2019-20 season she tore her ACL and lateral meniscus in practice and had to sit the year out. But she bounced back the following season and averaged 17.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
Gonzales has scored in double-digits in every game but one this year, and has put up 20 or more 11 times. And as many shots as takes, she still is very efficient. The guard is also a willing passer, and knows how to keep her teammates involved. Her willingness to rebound also shows that she has toughness.
After her performance, Saturday, Cougar coach Jeff Judkins said Gonzales is tops in the league.
“I think tonight, she proved why she’s the best player,” Judkins said. “On the road, team wasn’t playing up to par; she took the team on her back. That’s what MVPs do. That’s what great players do.”‘
Tina Gunn Robison has been at the top of the BYU offensive scoring ranks since 1980 when she finished her career with a fantastic 2,759 points in just 101 games. Gonzales has scored 1,471, and with two more years of eligibility left, she could make a run at the record. However, it will not be easy.
Records aside, if Gonzales keeps playing like this, the Cougars could be a dangerous team come tournament time. Having a versatile athlete of her magnitude in a one-game situation gives BYU excellent chances to win.