Tyler Haws returned from his LDS mission to the Philippines on Thursday, the first step in what will surely be a lengthy preparation to rejoin the BYU basketball team for this next season.
Cougar fans can hardly wait to see him in action again, but as with all returned missionaries, months of grueling work will be necessary before Haws will be prepared to contribute the way that he will want to.
By mutual agreement, Haws had not discussed his immediate plans in respect to basketball with anyone before returning yesterday evening, preferring instead to focus entirely on his missionary service.
He’ll be meeting with the BYU coaching staff in the near future to try to figure out a schedule for his return, but father Marty Haws reported that he’s excited to get back on the court.
“Physically, he looks great, like the same old Ty,” his father said. “He’s optimistic and anxious to get going and get started on the next chapter. I’m sure he’ll get with the staff and his teammates soon and just go to work.
“People who know Ty understand what that means,” the elder Haws concluded.
In his freshman campaign at BYU, Haws was named third team All-Conference as he averaged 11.3 points per game and was the third-leading scorer on the team, just behind Jackson Emery. His 397 points ranked him fifth all-time among Cougar freshmen.
What may have been more impressive was his 4.2 per-game average in rebounds. He was particularly a force at the offensive end, carving out a newcomer niche by chasing down missed shots and providing more opportunities for his teammates.
That could be a valuable asset next winter, as BYU is coming off one of its worst three-point shooting campaigns in the Dave Rose era.
Another could be his shooting efficiency. Haws netted 49.8 percent from the field for the season, which this year would have put him ahead of everyone but post players Noah Hartsock, Nate Austin and Brandon Davies.
It took him a few games to find his range from beyond the arc, but once he started hitting, he was good for 43 percent from long distance the rest of the season.
He also led the team in free-throw percentage at a school-record 91.7, which also ranked him fifth nationally in Division 1 that year. His ability to make those shots at the end of games helped those Cougars to reach the 30-win plateau for the first time ever.
When the final contest ended, Haws had sunk a BYU-record 48 straight foul shots without a miss. He will be able to add to that streak once he takes the court again this fall.
Rose met with reporters Tuesday and was already beaming at the thought of having back one of his most prized recruits.
“You look at the players that are going to lead, and you immediately look at the returning players — the veterans,” Rose said. “Even though Tyler hasn’t played the last two years, you would certainly put him in that group.”
Haws had his best game as a Cougar on Jan. 20 of 2010, posting 24 points and 11 rebounds at Wyoming. That year, Haws was a valuable option who was often left open because opposing defenses were focused on veterans like Jimmer Fredette and Emery.
Haws started all but two games he played in and averaged 26 minutes, third-best on a team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
That year, the Cougars won an NCAA game for the first time since 1993. Haws was the second-leading scorer on the team in both tournament games, behind only Fredette. He shot 60-percent plus from the field in addition to being perfect from the line in both of those contests.
Former Wyoming coach Heath Schroyer (also a former BYU assistant) said during Haws' freshman year that he expected the player to one day become a league player of the year.
Of course, a lot's changed since Haws was last around. The Cougars joined the West Coast Conference starting last season and could manage no better than third place behind St. Mary’s and Gonzaga.
Haws’ return along with other recent additions to the team will almost certainly help the Cougars to prepare to challenge those programs again come this winter.
Jason Franchuk can be reached at email@example.com. Beky Beaton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @BeatonWrite.