|Brian Nicholson, Deseret News|
But Lillard's game goes well beyond scoring, which is why draft experts now have him in the lottery and still rising. For most of the season, Lillard was part of what Ken Pomeroy called the 180 club -- 45% FG, 45% 3PT, 90% FT. He also turned the ball over just twice a game, remarkable for a point guard who played 35 minutes per contest.
His final per-game stat line of the season is as follows:
24.5 points ... 5.0 reb ... 4.0 assists ... 1.5 steals ... 2.3 turnovers ... 46.7% FG ... 40.9% 3PT ... 88.7% FT
At the risk of sounding cliche, I feel fortunate to have watched Lillard play so many times this season, so I wanted to run through some of my favorite memories of Lillard's season as I cross my fingers he makes it to an NBA team where his game can shine.
Early in the season, Weber State went to Saint Mary's to play a Gaels team that would finish 27-6 and win the regular-season and tournament WCC titles. Lillard went head-to-head against Matthew Dellavedova, scoring 36 points on 11-18 shooting in front of family and friends from his nearby home in Oakland.
In the next game, Weber saw starting senior forward Kyle Bullinger go down with a gruesome elbow injury. Lillard put the team on his back and scored 41 points on 13-21 shooting, pulled down 8 boards, and dished 4 assists -- including a three-pointer with five seconds left to send the game to overtime -- in a win over San Jose State.
I also witnessed in a game against Southern Utah, Lillard went for a 10-minute stretch in the second half without attempting a shot, but still finished with 31 points while dishing nine assists and committing no turnovers.
In two regular-season games against Portland State, the "Fly Guy" scored 78 points on 25-41 shooting, including 14-22 from three-point land, dished five assists in each game, and committed two total turnovers.
And to close the season in the Big Sky championship game, Lillard had 29 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists as he tried to will his team to a win, getting to the rim with impunity. While Montana couldn't miss all night (55% FG, 12-22 3PT), Lillard made his case on why he should be the first point guard taken in the draft. Chad Ford, ESPN's NBA draft guru, currently has Lillard as the #12 prospect in the draft, and after this performance tweeted that in mock drafts Lillard could go as high as #9. Draft Express has Lillard as the #14 prospect.
In all, Lillard had a fantastic season, named to the NABC All-American third team, the first Big Sky Conference player to be named an NABC All-American. It was always fun to watch him play, and I hope more players like him come through the Big Sky in the near future.