BYU star Shaylee Gonzales one of 10 Intermediate Player of the Year semi-finalists

The award is named after Becky Hammon, star college basketball player and current coach of the Las Vegas Aces.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) BYU guard Shaylee Gonzales (2) leads the offense for the Cougars, as Pepperdine Waves forward Kendyl Carson (22) defends, in women’s basketball action between the BYU Cougars and the Pepperdine Waves, at the Marriott Center in Provo, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. Judkins picked up his 450th win tonight.

Shaylee Gonzales is arguably the best player on the West Coast Conference’s top women’s basketball team. The BYU sophomore is second in the conference in points and steals, third in field goal percentage and assists, and is tied with another player for most 20-point games this season.

But Gonzales is actually not one to soak up the accolades, or the multiple times she’s been named WCC Player of the Week, or the national watchlists she appears on.

“She doesn’t want all that,” coach Jeff Judkins told the Salt Lake Tribune. “She doesn’t want this stuff presented to the team. She doesn’t want to ruin what the team has and make anyone feel like she’s getting extra treatment or extra exposure.

Like it or not, Gonzales is exposed a lot during the 2021-22 season. This week, she was named among 10 semi-finalists for the Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year Award.

Gonzales was averaging 18.8 points, 4.5 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game entering this week. She had helped the Cougars go 23-2 and 13-1 in conference.

But Gonzales isn’t just among the best in the WCC. She is also among the top 60 players in Division I women’s basketball. She is 35th in points per game, 46th in field goal percentage (51.6%), and 58th in steals per game.

Gonzales made the third Becky Hammon Award cut. In October, the watch list had 25 players. This list was reduced to 15 in January. The five finalists will be announced in early March, with the winner revealed during the Final Four.

The other nine semi-finalists for the award are: Dyaisha Fair, Buffalo; Jasmine Dickey, Delaware; Kierstan Bell, University of the Florida Gulf Coast; Macee Williams, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis; Sam Breen, Massachusetts; Katelyn Young, Murray State; Abby Meyers, Princeton; Stephanie Visscher, Stephen F. Austin; and Meral Abdelgawad, in western Kentucky.

Judkins said Gonzales is such a humble player that when she’s won WCC Player of the Week in the past, she doesn’t even want it announced to the rest of her teammates. She just wants to be remembered as a winner and get as far as possible in the NCAA Tournament, he said.

Gonzales has had a few signature moments this season. She scored a career-high 35 points earlier this month. She caught an out pass with her left hand and completed a layup without ever putting the ball on the ground. She is naturally right-handed. She also happens to be a successful entrepreneur off the pitch.

Judkins because there is “no question” that Gonzales should be named WCC Player of the Year. A first-team selection also seems inevitable.

The longtime BYU coach, who really lacks things to say about his star player, also thinks Gonzales should be recognized on a larger scale with the Becky Hammon Award.

“I know I’m biased, but I don’t know if there’s a mid-major player better than her. I just don’t,” Judkins said. “I haven’t seen one. I watch a lot of games and I haven’t seen it. So hopefully she gets that. She deserves it.”

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