Shoot away

Screen after screen after screen and finally Ryan Toolson gets a crease of an opening and buries a 20-foot shot. He has to work for everything he gets, but he still gets it.

It doesn’t matter that he is the target of every team’s defensive game plan. It doesn’t matter how many times he gets double or triple teamed.

Utah Valley’s leading scorer still hits his three-pointers, still makes almost every free throw he shoots, and still carries the Wolverines.

"Ryan’s been incredible this season," coach Dick Hunsaker said. "He’s the focal point of every team and he still gets it done night in and night out."

The guard has led the team in scoring in 17 of 19 games this season, including a two-game stint where he shot 70 percent from the field (14-of-20), 73 percent from behind the 3-point line (22-for-30), and averaged 32.5 points against Lamar and Chicago State—earning him the Independent Player of the Week honor for the third time this season.

Unfortunately, the offensive output came in two losses. The struggling Wolverines, amidst road trip after road trip, have seen the losses mount, a situation Toolson hasn’t had to deal with prior to this season at Utah Valley.

In his first season as a freshman, before serving an LDS mission, Toolson was the second-leading scorer with 13.7 points per game behind current Utah Jazz guard Ronnie Price, playing on a 23-5 team. That team won the Independent championship when Toolson made a 3-pointer in overtime against Florida Gulf Coast.

When he returned two years later, Utah Valley won the United Basketball League championship, and Toolson led the team in scoring with 15.5 points a game without starting a single game.

But this year he does what he can and cheers for his teammates to get involved as much as possible.

"When other guys play well, Ryan is the first to be happy for them," Hunsaker said.

With many of the older players struggling to find consistency during the Wolverines brutal schedule, Toolson has been relatively steady and at times incredible.

On top of the back-to-back games that earned him player of the week honors, Toolson ignited against Southern Utah in Cedar City during the holiday break.

His career-high 35-point performance was capped by 3-pointers at the end of regulation, the end of the first overtime, and then at the end of the second overtime, giving Utah Valley a rare road win.

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