Editor’s Note: Welcome to the first installment of our 2014-15 Senior Send-Off Series. In the coming weeks, we will be highlighting the graduating seniors around the WCC and their contributions to their programs.Feb 28, 2015; Spokane, WA, USA; Brigham Young Cougars guard Skyler Halford (23) attempts a free throw against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the first half at McCarthey Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Skyler Halford came to BYU as a 24 year old redshirt junior who had spent two years playing basketball at Salt Lake Community College, two years on an LDS Mission in Brazil, and one year out of high school as a walk-on at Utah State. Despite averaging over 17 points a game as a sophomore on a very talented SLCC team, there were definitely questions as to how much he could contribute at the Division 1 level. Halford’s former teammate at SLCC, Augustin Ambrosino, was supposed help fill the void left by sweet shooting forward Noah Hartsock in 2012-13, but could not adjust to a higher level of basketball and left the program shortly after Halford signed in April 2013.
But Halford quickly showed why he would make a much bigger impact in 2013-14 than Ambrosino had the year before. Halford was labeled by some as a shooter, but in reality he was much more than that. After an inconsistent start to the season where he was overshadowed by the immediate impact of Frank Bartley, Halford poured in a career high 28 points in a win over San Diego in January, and scored in double figures 6 times in the month of January. But by mid-February, Anson Winder had emerged as an effective scorer on the drive who also had the ability to hit the outside shot. As a result, Halford sat on the bench. A lot. He only played in 52 minutes in the last 8 games of the season, and only scored 9 points over that stretch, including a total of zero points in the WCC and NCAA Tournaments. Had Kyle Collinsworth been healthy for that NCAA Tournament game against Oregon, it would not have shocked me if Skyler had gotten his first ever DNP Coach’s Decision.
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The end to Halford’s junior season set up low expectations for Halford’s senior seasons. And for the first half of the season, those expectations were somewhat justified. He was still playing solid defense, but his offensive game was not coming together like it had in spurts of his junior season. But starting in mid-January, Halford became a consistent every game scorer for the first time in his two years at BYU. Shots started falling, his ability to drive and shoot crafty floaters was on display. This offensive burst came at the perfect time, when Anson Winder’s injuries began to derail his fantastic senior season. From January 10th until the end of the season, Halford scored 8 points or more in all but one game, and his hot shooting allowed him to finish the season shooting a blistering 48% from beyond the arc, up 17% from his junior season.
In a year where the Cougars got very little from the frontline in terms of scoring output, Halford was one of the guards that was crucial in making BYU’s offense click. His effort an energy at all times on the court helped him become a good defender, and BYU will sure miss the consistency he brought towards the end of his career next season at the times when Chase Fischer can’t find the hoop and BYU needs a big shot. No moment was too big for Skyler Halford on the basketball court. He was the ultimate warrior for BYU who remained humble no matter how many good performances he had.