After a 75-66 win over Seattle on Jan. 3, coach Stew Morrill was effusive in his praise for Kyisean Reed. The senior had scored 20 points and added 10 rebounds to power Utah State to victory.
Morrill took a pause to address another player.
"We need Jarred to do that," he said. "We need him not to wait until his senior year."
It was a public challenge of Jarred Shaw, the Aggies' 6-foot-10 center, ahead of one of his biggest challenges of the year against Idaho center Kyle Barone. And a game later, Shaw had 12 points and 12 rebounds to help push Utah State to a thrilling overtime win.
The mercurial transfer has been the key rebounder and often the post presence Utah State needs to win. That role has been even pushed more to the forefront after injuries decimated the team's roster. He's the top healthy scorer and rebounder.
Shaw is coming off a 21-point, 14-rebound performance against Louisiana Tech headed into Thursday's game against Idaho and a rematch with Barone. It was arguably the best game of his career.
Morrill talked at his Tuesday teleconference about Shaw and his development.
"That is part of any first year player: learning what it takes," Morrill said. "You know, he got discouraged in our first game over the weekend and had a tough shooting night, he responded very well to that. He didn't get his head down - he came back out the next game and played hard."
But Morrill added that Shaw has work to do. His best nights come when his shot is falling. He'd like to be convinced that Shaw can make an impact even when things aren't going well offensively.
"That is what he is trying to figure out: How to play hard no matter what is going on out there," Morrill said. "Some shots start coming around when you worry about other areas of the game. We will see."
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon