Shaylee Gonzales is arguably the best player on the best women’s basketball team in the West Coast Conference. The BYU sophomore is second in the conference in scoring and steals, third in field goal percentage and assists, and is tied with one other player for the most 20-point games this season.
But Gonzales is actually not one to soak in the praise, or the multiple times she’s been named WCC Player of the Week, or the national watch lists on which she appears.
“She doesn’t want all that stuff,” coach Jeff Judkins told The Salt Lake Tribune. “She doesn’t want that stuff being brought up to the team. She doesn’t want to ruin what the team has and have somebody feel that she’s getting extra treatment or extra ... exposure.”
Want it or not, Gonzales is getting plenty of exposure during the 2021-22 season. This week, she was named among 10 semifinalists 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 to a 23-2 record and a 13-1 mark in conference play.
But Gonzales isn’t just among the top performers in the WCC. She also is within the top 60 players all of Division I women’s basketball. She’s 35th in points per game, 46th in field goal percentage (51.6%) and 58th in steals per game.
Gonzales made the third cut of Becky Hammon award. In October, the watch list was 25 players deep. That list was whittled down to 15 in January. The five finalists will be announced in early March, with the winner being unveiled sometime during the Final Four.
The other nine semifinalists for the award are: Dyaisha Fair, Buffalo; Jasmine Dickey, Delaware; Kierstan Bell, Florida Gulf Coast University; 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, Western Kentucky.
Judkins said Gonzales is such a humble player that when she has won WCC Player of the Week in the past, she doesn’t even want it announced to the rest of her teammates. She merely wants to be remembered as a winner and go 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 outlet pass with her left hand and finished a layup while never putting the ball on the floor. She is naturally right-handed. She also so happens to be a successful entrepreneur off the court.
Judkins because there’s “no question” Gonzales should be named the WCC Player of the Year. A first-team selection seems inevitable as well.
The longtime BYU coach, who is genuinely running out of things to say about his star player, also thinks Gonzales should be recognized on the Becky Hammon award’s larger scale.
“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 receives that. She deserves it.”