It took 30 years for a Brigham Young basketball player to break Danny Ainge’s school scoring record. Jimmer Fredette did it in 2011, finishing with 2,599 points. Two years later, Tyler Haws is threatening to trump them both.
The 6-foot-5-inch sophomore guard from Alpine, Utah, is the West Coast Conference’s leading scorer this season and ranks in the top 10 nationally at 20.6 points per game. He is on pace to score 711 points this season. Fredette scored 536 points as a sophomore, and Ainge had 498.
Barring a physical setback, Haws also is targeted to become the first player at BYU since Ainge to surpass 1,000 points over his freshman and sophomore seasons. Fredette had 780.
“(Haws) had a great opportunity to start his freshman year and got a great experience, but his ability to come home off his mission and perform at the level he is playing is exciting for him and really exciting for our staff and program,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “Hopefully he can just continue getting better and better.”
Virginia Tech coach James Johnson became a believer after Haws scored 42 against his defense on Dec. 29. “He can score in a lot of ways,” Johnson said. “He’s savvy. He’s crafty, and he’s smart.”
Haws is a quiet, unassuming leader who lets his performance do most of the talking for him. Like Fredette, he is flourishing in Rose’s run-and-gun style.
“Playing at our pace and staying on attack for 40 minutes is key for us,” Haws said. “There have been times this year when everybody is playing together and playing well, and I feel like at those times we can beat anyone.”
Haws is BYU’s leader in career free-throw percentage, at 91.8 percent. Fredette finished at 88.2 percent.
“Ty is an unbelievable shooter,” BYU senior forward Brandon Davies said. “(Opponents) have to send one or two guys at him, and that opens things up for all of us. He makes everyone better.”
Thursday was not one of Haws’ better nights. No. 10 Gonzaga held him to one point on 0-for-9 shooting from the field in the Bulldogs’ 83-63 win. BYU (15-6, 5-2 WCC) plays at Portland (8-13, 1-5) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPNU (Cox 320).
■ FUTURE COUGARS – Lone Peak High School in Highland, Utah, is 16-1 and ranked No. 2 in the nation by MaxPreps.com and No. 3 by ESPN. All five starters have ties to the Cougars.
Senior guard Nick Emery, the 6-2 brother of former BYU standout Jackson Emery, and 6-10 senior center Eric Mika signed letters of intent to play for the Cougars. Emery leaves on his Latter-day Saints church mission in May. Mika will play one season before leaving on his mission.
Junior guard T.J. Haws, the 6-3 brother of BYU starter Tyler Haws, has verbally committed to BYU, and 6-3 senior guard Talon Shumway signed to play football for coach Bronco Mendenhall. The other member of Lone Peak’s starting five is 6-3 senior guard Connor Toolson. His father, Andy, played for the Cougars in 1984-85 and from 1987 to 1990 and was inducted into the BYU Hall of Fame in 2001.
In addition to the incoming commitments, BYU has three current players from Lone Peak: Haws and sophomore forwards Nate Austin and Josh Sharp.
■ FOOTBALL SCHEDULE – BYU will release its 2013 football schedule at 5:30 p.m. Monday on BYUtv (Cox 352).
Dave McCann is a news anchor for KSL television in Salt Lake City and play-by-play voice for BYU sports on BYUtv. He also is the host of True Blue, which airs at 5:30 p.m. Mondays on BYUtv. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @DaveMcCannKSL.