by Daniel Olsen |
2020 has brought a lot of ups and downs but during the year the sports moments we have had brought fans to their feet. From January to March there were crowded stadiums. Then, there was a dark period of no sports from March until June. This left many sports fans to watch re-runs that were aired on several sports channels. The Last Dance became a closely followed documentary on Michael Jordan and the 1998 Chicago Bulls. From July until now, the sports slowly started to rise again in the Beehive State.
Real Salt Lake participated in the MLS Restart in July. The Jazz came back and played into the end of August in the Disney Resort bubble in Orlando. College sports returned in the fall after spring sports were cancelled. The MLB and NHL had shortened seasons and the NFL made it through several cancellations due to the spread of the pandemic in multiple locker rooms.
There were several athletes who significantly improved their games this year. We will break down the four best ones and then make our pick. Feel free to also vote on our Twitter poll to make your voice heard on what the fan’s choice is!
Justin Bean: The Hustle Machine
Bean isn’t the most talented athlete but for what he may lack in athleticism, he makes up for twofold in hustle. He dives for loose balls, is a willing rebounder and puts himself in the right position to score when needed. He is the team’s energy guy. Championship teams need a guy like this such as Draymond Green was for the Warriors or Dennis Rodman was for the Bulls.
As far as improvement goes, Bean was often found on the double double watch in his sophomore year. He improved both his rebounding and scoring by about seven per game. He averaged a double double with 11.9 points and 10.5 boards. He is a little lower to start his junior season but there is plenty of basketball to be played as we head towards the latter half of his junior year in 2021. Bean was a big reason for the repeat conference tournament championship for the Aggies of the Mountain West. That is why we give him a nominee for most improved athlete.
Zach Wilson: BYU Comeback Cougar
For most of his freshman and sophomore years, Zach Wilson dealt with injuries that affected his consistency and it affected the team in consecutive 7-6 seasons. He had a decent freshman year as he took over for Tanner Mangum in the second half of the blowout loss to Utah State and became the starter. He had that sophomore slump when the injuries affected him in 2019.
2020 was a difficult year for many but Wilson used that time to drive 10 hours back and forth each weekend to train with John Beck. Those who have watched any BYU football broadcast this year know!
Wilson is the Joe Burrow of 2020. He went from average to awesome with some hard work on his game. Take a look at his improvements below:
Even these charts don’t do Wilson justice. He went from nine interceptions in 2019 to just three in 2020. That was the only stat he had less output on in 2020 and that’s a good thing. Coach Sitake would rather have him throw to the blue jerseys on his team than whoever is on the other team. He also improved his quarterback rating by over 60 points. Wilson had a breakout year and went from being another average quarterback at BYU to catapulting the program and his career. If he declares for the draft, he is already projected by many to be taken in the first round.
Jordan Clarkson: A New Home
The Jazz were in need of a spark off the bench so they traded the talented but injury prone Dante Exum to the Cavaliers in exchange for Jordan Clarkson. The Jazz definitely got that spark off the bench as Clarkson became the fifth leading scorer for the Jazz. He averaged 15.6 points for the Jazz (the second best output of his career), but did that while shooting a career high 54.7 percent from the field. He spent most of his career playing for losing teams but a winning team like the Jazz embraced his strengths and it showed.
Our Pick: Our pick would have to be Wilson from BYU here but you as the fans can still make your vote heard! You can vote for either of these three or submit your own nomination in our Twitter poll. You can also follow us on Facebook or Instagram.