Winder loving BYU experience

As the Cougars participate in the West Coast Conference Tournament in Las Vegas, it will be Anson Winder's homecoming. Though he got to travel with the team to Las Vegas last year on a few occasions while redshirting, this will be his first time playing as a BYU athlete in his home city. With his freshman season winding down, Winder has loved his BYU experience so far.

Anson Winder has played in 30 of BYU's 31 games this season, but his role in those games has varied a great deal.

He primarily played point guard early in the season and unexpectedly cracked the starting lineup, despite only having a few weeks of experience playing that position in team practices. When Matt Carlino became eligible and played his first game on December 17, Winder was then moved back to shooting guard.

At times he's been a starter, at times he's come off the bench. Now, after being reinserted as a starter in BYU's first matchup against Gonzaga on February 2, Winder has started seven consecutive games and 13 overall.

"It's a good feeling, but it's the same mentality," he said about becoming a starter again. "I still want to do whatever I can to help the team win, not trying to go out and do anything I can do. I just want to play defense, get out in transition and just play the way we're supposed to play."

He admitted he missed playing point guard a little bit, but Winder said he is happy to do whatever is asked of him. As BYU's starting shooting guard, he has followed in the footsteps of former starting two guard Jackson Emery by playing strong defense.

"I kind of take pride in my defense," said Winder. "It's good to stop a guy from scoring, ‘cause that helps the team too, especially if we really need a bucket or we need to really get them to stop. I take pride in helping the team get that stop, so it's a good feeling to be out there playing defense."

It seems clear that redshirting his first year really benefitted Winder and prepared him for this season.

"I was eased into it," he said regarding how redshirting helped him. "I got to watch Jackson and Jimmer, the best backcourt in the country last year, so it definitely helped a lot practicing against them and watching. I learned a lot and I've tried to carry it over this year."

While he isn't quite racking up the lofty amount of steals that Emery had en route to setting a school record, Winder has nevertheless done well. He is fourth on the team with 32 steals, behind only two juniors in Brandon Davies and Brock Zylstra (46 and 35 steals, respectively) and a senior in Charles Abouo (36 steals).

More significantly, Winder averages one steal every 15.6 minutes played, a team-best. Carlino, who has only one fewer steal than Winder so far this year as a fellow freshman, is second on the team with one steal every 18.6 minutes played.

In other words, the future is bright.

"I think the sky's the limit for our team," said Winder, one of five freshmen to play this season. "We're young and we're all getting a lot of experience right now, so I think we can do well in the future. It's looking pretty good for us."

While Winder's family has attended some BYU games this season, the WCC Tournament will be a great opportunity for him to really put his talents on display back home.

"Yeah, they've been to a few, but they're really excited for the tournament back home. Hopefully I can get a big hometown crowd there when we go to Vegas," he said prior to heading down to Sin City.

Provo, Utah may be a far, far cry from Sin City, but Winder said nothing but good things about the nearly two years he's spent at BYU so far.

"It's been fun," said Winder, not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "People around here are really accepting whether you're Mormon or not. LDS or not, it doesn't matter. People are accepting me as if I am a member of the Church or if I'm one of their own, and it's a great feeling. I love it here. I couldn't ask to be at a better college and I'm really enjoying it. It's been a lot of fun so far."

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