Anson Winder’s arrival at BYU in the fall of 2010 went largely unnoticed. Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery were in their senior year leading BYU to a top-10 ranking and a 34-3 season that ended in the Sweet 16. Winder redshirted and got a front row seat in the most historic season in BYU basketball history.
But with the departure of those two legendary guards plus then small-forward Kyle Collinsworth on his LDS mission, the Cougars were losing their entire starting backcourt going into the 2011-12 season. With that reality plus Matt Carlino’s ineligibility for the Fall 2011 semester, Anson Winder found himself as the starting point guard on a team led in scoring by Noah Hartsock and Brandon Davies. In the 6 games between November 18 and December 3, Winder averaged 6.8 PPG and 5.2 APG in over 27 minutes a game at point guard. But when Matt Carlino became eligible and Craig Cusack became a steady backup point guard, Winder moved over to reserve shooting guard. In that role, his playing time fluctuated throughout the season depending on Charles Abouo’s foul trouble and Brock Zylstra’s shooting. Winder was a solid defender but he was a liability on offense for most of the season, finishing the season shooting 36.6% from the field.
The start of Winder’s sophomore season was hampered by injury, and while he did see a significant amount of playing time in the middle of the season, his minutes per game average was cut in half from his freshman season from 16.2 to 8.1. Unfortunately, his shooting percentage was still below 40%. Winder was never really able to develop his offensive game and watched BYU’s run to the NIT Final Four on the bench for the most part, playing in only 8 minutes in the 4 game postseason run.
During his junior season, BYU had one of their deepest backcourts in recent memory led by Tyler Haws, Kyle Collinsworth, Matt Carlino, Skylar Halford, Frank Bartley, and Winder. Winder started off the season with a few good games, but quickly fell behind Bartley and then Halford in the rotation, as both were contributing more offensively during certain stretches. But in late February, Anson Winder became an offensive star for the first time in his career and got himself back in the starting lineup for the first time in two and a half years. A five game stretch where Winter averaged 15.6 PPG was aggressive in getting to the free throw line while also showing the ability to knock down the long ball was a solid preview of what was to come in the next season. For the season, Winder averaged 6.4 PPG and a shot career high 54% from the field, up 16% from the previous year, and 40% from beyond the arc (up 15%), really showing how much more effective he was at converting on his drives to the basket and from beyond the arc.
Winder’s senior season was the most impressive and most disappointing of his career at the same time. Finally having the confidence to dribble penetrate combined with a developed three point shot, Winder benefitted from a lot of defensive attention on Haws and Collinsworth. On January 10th, 2015, Winder was averaging 14.9 points per game and had moved into the starting lineup. But from that point on, injuries ruined one of the most inspirational seasons by a BYU player, as Winder missed 6 games due to knee injuries and played through injury in a bunch of other games. By late February, he wasn’t able to contribute very much on offense other than from beyond the arc, and his defense, normally excellent, had become a liability. Dave Rose played an inconsistent Frank Bartley over Winter in the WCC and NCAA tournament, which came back to hurt the Cougars in the long run. It was clear they missed Winder’s defense in the WCC Championship against Gonzaga and in the NCAA Tournament against Ole Miss, as they gave up more than 90 points to both teams. Wounded Winder made his last appearance in a BYU uniform against Ole Miss, playing a measly four minutes but still contributing with a made three pointer late in the first half, which is very impressive given how much he had sat on the bench recently. Despite the injuries, he still finished the season averaging 12.7 PPG on 48% from the field.
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What was most impressive about Anson Winder’s five year career was his hard work and perseverance to make himself a better player each off-season, even if injuries limited him at times during the season. He always remained positive even when he wasn’t playing a lot due to injury or depth. And he showed a remarkably amount of loyalty to Dave Rose’s program by sticking it out at BYU and not transferring when he had every reason (basketball wise) to do so. It was so great to see his development pay off this season after many seasons buried on the bench, and in a year where BYU relied solely on the backcourt for scoring, Winder was a big part of the team’s success on offense without sacrificing one bit of his defense when healthy.
Thank you Anson for a great five years that made Cougar fans to see how far you’ve come on the basketball court!