SALT LAKE CITY — Almost every organization likes to call itself a family. You know, the "Larry H. Miller Organization family," the "Zions Bank family," etc.
Even crime organizations call themselves family. But BYU basketball?
Now that's special.
Watch out, singing von Trapps.
The Cougars announced Wednesday that prep stars Nick Emery, Jakob Hartsock and Braiden Shaw have signed National Letters of Intent. The news release also said Kyle Collinsworth will return next summer from his LDS mission to play for the Cougars.
Want to know how to build a top-25 program? Find a surname that works and stick with it. It's a shame the Osmonds couldn't throw a rock in the ocean. That could have gone on for generations. As it is, the Cougars are doing nicely. All the aforementioned people can really play, if you believe coach Dave Rose — and who wouldn't? The man has never won fewer than 20 games in a season.
"With the addition of these players to our program, BYU basketball has a bright future," Rose said.
It certainly has a familiar one.
The bad news is that unless your name is Jabari or Jimmer, you aren't getting in without a pedigree chart.
The rundown goes like this. Collinsworth, a returned LDS missionary who started 27 games as a freshman, will help fill the void left by his brother Chris, who retired in September due to injuries. Emery is one of the most highly recruited players in Utah history, as well as a brother to Jackson, the former Mountain West Conference defensive player of the year. Hartsock is the brother of Noah, a WCC all-conference player last year. Shaw's father played on BYU's junior varsity.
Tyler Haws is back from his LDS mission and looking good, tied for the team scoring lead. His brother T.J., a junior at Lone Peak High, has already verbally committed to BYU, though he plans to serve a mission beforehand. Their father Marty Haws is 19th on the Cougars' all-time scoring list.
Cooper Ainge, son of former national player of the year Danny Ainge, is a freshman at BYU. Older brother Austin was a Cougar from 2002-2007 and the Mountain West's top 3-point shooter. Jordan Chatman, son of former BYU great Jeff Chatman, has verbally committed to BYU after a mission.
Did we mention former Cougar Andy Toolson is a cousin to Danny Ainge's wife? That ex-Cougar Mike Rose was a nephew to the coach?
The marketing and p.r. people have to be thrilled about all this. They only have to rework their game programs every 25 or 30 years.
Long ago and far away (OK, in the 1990s), BYU coach Roger Reid put sons Randy and Robbie on his team. Practices looked like Family Home Evening. The move left the coach open to considerable criticism.
But Utah State fans loved it when the Cougars came to the Spectrum. They would dress up with blond wigs and nametags that had the Reid brothers' names (real or fictional) on them.
It wasn't as though the Reids couldn't play. Randy is in the BYU career 1,000-point club, along with Toolson and the elder Ainge, Chatman and Haws. Robbie started at BYU before transferring to Michigan, where he averaged 13.5 points, finishing second in the Big Ten in 3-point baskets.
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On one hand, some might cry nepotism. On the other hand, everyone "bundles" these days, right? (BYU just got a head start with players such as Devin/Mark Durrant and Kenneth/Fred Roberts.)
All of this is wonderful if your surname appears in the BYU record books, but disconcerting if your name is Halberstam or Scarling. There's always a chance you could marry into the family. Don't laugh. It worked for Brock Reichner (2005-06), who wed Rose's daughter.
I don't want to discourage anyone from following his dream of playing basketball at BYU. There's no saying it's impossible. All I know is that a good way to gauge whether it's a realistic goal is to apply this formula: If you're kin, you're in.