Low-key Tyler Haws eyes Jimmer Fredette, BYU scoring record
PROVO, Utah (AP) Tyler Haws was on his Mormon mission in the Philippines when Jimmer Fredette was setting BYU's scoring record. Haws played alongside Fredette as a freshman, but was disconnected from the team in 2010 while serving his two-year mission.
Letters from his dad kept Haws - a Utah-born, lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - in the loop, but the Legend of Jimmer had spread throughout the world and local LDS members spread the tales. Fredette averaged a nation-high 28.9 points during the 2010-11 season and was named the NCAA Player of the Year while leading the Cougars to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1981.
Fredette finished his career as the school's all-time leading scorer with 2,599 points and hordes of fans with no connection to BYU. Four seasons later, Haws, third in the nation with 22.4 points per game, is quietly seven points from breaking that record.
The Cougars play Portland on Thursday.
Whereas Fredette was on the cover of Sports Illustrated in consecutive issues and was a national media darling, Haws has done most of his work in relative anonymity.
''I never thought I'd be near the scoring record,'' Haws said. ''My game's not the flashy, drive baseline and dunk on you. I just try to be efficient in what I do. I've got my pull-up, midrange game and try to get to line.
''I think some of those things contribute to why I fly under the radar. But I play hard every game and feel like I'm efficient in what I do.''
Not only does Haws and Fredette, whose long-range abilities were made for highlight reels, score in different ways, but their paths were extremely different. Fredette didn't take a Mormon mission, but his massive popularity helped spread word of the LDS church. Haws spent two years in the Philippines, away from basketball. He gained 30 pounds at one point, but returned 10 pounds lighter. Haws didn't know what his game would look like after a two-year hiatus.
''You do have those doubts,'' Haws said. ''Two years is a long time away from a sport you've played your whole life. ... I felt like I grew up a lot on my mission and learned lots of leadership skills. Learned how to talk to people. Learned how to stay mentally strong.
''I came back and it was a really slow process getting back into shape. But my shot came back pretty quick and just slowly I got back in to basketball shape. When my sophomore year started, I felt like I was a better player.''
Portland coach Eric Reveno watched Haws drop 48 on the Pilots in their home gym last year. He described the 6-foot-5, 195-pounder as a complete player that will ''bully'' a smaller defender, but still has 3-point range.
''Looking back, we did a pretty good job,'' Reveno said. ''To say you did a good job on a guy and he got 48, that's a pretty good compliment.''
Those close to Haws said his success stems from the ability to narrow his focus to the goal of each day. That's why he never got caught up in chasing the scoring record. That's how he was able to put together a 60-game streak of scoring double digits - the third longest in school history.
His dad, Marty, said Tyler has always been that way. He was that way when the two would spend hours in their church gym with Tyler shooting hundreds of jumpers - the same gym where that midrange game was perfected. The gym wasn't wide enough for 3-point shots from the wing, so options were limited. J.J. Redick and Richard Hamilton were players with efficient midrange games he looked up to.
The two speak daily and both are eager for the record to be in the past.
''It's not something to get caught up in,'' Marty said. ''We're going to try to enjoy the moment and hopefully it comes in a win ... and a winning season. At some point I'm going to suggest Tyler look back at it and feel really good about it. It is significant. It's a major achievement.
''It's kind of weird, but it's probably a little microcosm of life. If you go into something chasing that, it'll probably slip through your fingers. I don't think that was ever necessarily the goal. The goal is to be productive and the goal is to help your team.''