A star is on the rise in Provo, Utah, and he could spark another solid run for Brigham Young in the NCAA Tournament later this month.
The 21-10 Cougars boast the third-highest scoring offense in the country at 85 points per game and have won eight of their last nine games, including a victory over West Coast Conference leaders Gonzaga.
Much of the thanks belong to junior guard and WCC Player of the Year Tyler Haws, a smooth, multi-dimensional shooter who’s sixth in the nation with 23.4 points per game.
Haws is one of a handful of players in the country knocking down more than 40 percent of his twos and three-point attempts and, along with sophomore guard Kyle Collinsworth, could be a major factor during March Madness.
There’s plenty of evidence to suggest Haws is ready to bring the Cougars back to the Sweet 16, a round they’ve only been to twice in the last 33 years.
There was this 48-point explosion in BYU’s 114-110 triple-overtime loss at Portland in January.
The 33-point, seven-rebound effort in BYU’s 84-71 win over perennial tournament darling Saint Mary’s last month. And that was after his 38-point scoring display against Pacific two nights prior.
All told Haws has scored 30 or more points eight times season, and he’s making opponents pay for cheap fouls. On the year Haws has knocked down nearly 87 percent of his attempts from the free line.
Last season Haws also went 14-for-25 from the floor, including 6-for-8 from three, while scoring 29 of his 42 points in a huge victory over Virginia Tech.
It’s important to keep in mind Haws also took two years away from basketball to fulfill his Mormon mission, and the time off clearly hasn’t affected his game.
The comparisons to former BYU star turned-pro Jimmer Fredette have been made. Haws hasn’t reached Fredette’s level as a shooter yet, though his listed height of 6-foot-5 and overall larger frame suggest Haws could add a post-game to his repertoire down the line.
With only one victory over a ranked opponent, BYU will need Haws to go off during the WCC tournament in order to secure a bid in the NCAAs later this month.
BYU earned a bye in the WCC tournament, and will next play Saturday against either Portland or Loyola Marymount in the quarterfinals. Teams and their seeding for the NCAA will be announced on Sunday, March 16, and the tournament will begin on Tuesday, March 18.