If the Mountain West Conference's postseason awards had been voted on one month ago, chances are BYU's Tyler Haws would have been named MWC Freshman of the Year.
After BYU's 81-66 win over Wyoming on Jan. 20, in which he scored a season-high 24 points, Haws was averaging 12 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 0.7 steals per game while shooting 52.6 percent from the field.
Haws had played at least 19 minutes in each of BYU's 20 games, scoring in double digits in 13 of them. It seemed the award was his for the taking.
But that's why they don't hand out postseason awards until the postseason.
Since that Jan. 20 game, Haws has seen his numbers dip almost across the board. Here are his averages in BYU's last six games:
9.1 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1 SPG, 51.9% FG
Is the slump due to hitting a freshman wall or being banged up in recent games and practices? No one seems to know.
One thing everyone knows, though, is that the race for MWC Freshman of the Year is once again wide open.
Here are the likely top five candidates (all stats current entering games on Feb. 20):
Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State (12.7 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.2 SPG 0.6 BPG)
Most forget that Leonard was named Preseason MWC Freshman of the Year, likely due to his slow start. Since conference play began, though, Leonard has been consistently spectacular, leading the Aztecs in scoring and rebounding.
In SDSU's 12 MWC games this season, Leonard has seven double-doubles. With 15 points and 9.3 rebounds per game in conference play, Leonard has become a force in the paint.
For Leonard to win the award, he and the Aztecs must keep improving against the MWC's best. SDSU is 2-3 this season against BYU, UNLV, and New Mexico. In those five games, Leonard is shooting just 41 percent and averaging just 11.6 points.
Dorian Green, Colorado State (12.6 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.1 SPG, 37.9% 3P)
It's only fitting that such a young team is led by one of its youngest players.
The Rams are one of the MWC's biggest surprises, and Green deserves a large portion of the credit. He leads CSU in scoring and has played nearly 200 minutes more than then second-place Adam Nigon.
Like Haws, Green has had a slump of sorts lately. In his last six games, he is shooting just 31.8 percent from the field and averaging just 10 points.
CSU still needs to play UNLV, New Mexico, and SDSU once again. If Green can lead the Rams to an upset or two in those games, look for his name to keep soaring.
Marshall Henderson, Utah (12.4 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.8 SPG, 33.9% 3P)
The Utes as a whole have been wildly inconsistent this season, and Henderson was no different before MWC play began.
One day, he was scoring 22 points to lead Utah over Michigan. The next, he was held to just three points in a Ute loss to Illinois State.
Since MWC play began, Henderson has scored in double figures in all but one game (not counting the game he missed due to suspension). This included a season-high 24 points on 7-for-9 shooting (5-for-7 from long range) against TCU.
The Utes' remaining schedule is fairly soft, so Henderson has a chance to pad his numbers right before the votes are cast.
Desmar Jackson, Wyoming (9.9 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.3 SPG, 48.7% FG)
The Cowboys may have struggled in Afam Muojeke's absence, but the injury opened a big door of opportunity for Jackson.
In Wyoming's seven games without Muojeke, Jackson has averaged over 16 points, including three games with over 20 points. The Ohio native is also second on the team in assists and tied for third in steals.
It's a shame that Jackson will be overlooked because of Wyoming's struggles, but there may be other awards in his future if he keeps up this pace.
Tyler Haws, BYU (11.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.4 APG, .8 SPG, 52.9% FG, 38.6% 3P)
Despite the slump, Haws has definitely made an impact in his first season. BYU fans are hoping he won't get too rusty during his LDS mission.
As will be the case with other MWC awards this season, Haws' chances of winning are tied directly to BYU's play at the end the season.
If BYU wins out to grab the regular season title and makes a deep run in the MWC tournament, Haws will probably win the award. If anyone upends the Cougars, look for Leonard to receive the honor.
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