Dick Harmon: In making the USA team, Tyler Haws has done the state of Utah proud

Published: Thursday, July 4 2013 4:05 p.m. MDT

By increasing his value on the court, Tyler is due for an intriguing experience with the USA team.

In the WCC, Haws saw teams adapt to his game and design plans to aggressively defend him because he was BYU’s big weapon. It will be interesting to see how his game unfolds on Team USA, where 11 other players are talented and must be respected.

“Everything changes,” said his father of his expectations on how Tyler will perform and be guarded on an all-star team. “Your role changes and that’s where I think Tyler can be really effective because he won’t feel he has to make a certain number of baskets or score a certain number of points. His mindset is to make a play to make his team better and find a way to win. That’s what Tyler has been training to do before he left.”

Tyler’s life is centered around basketball these days. He remains single at BYU and doesn’t hold a job. His job is bouncing the ball.

A daily workout for Haws this spring and summer consists of two hours of simply shooting from spots all over the floor. He then works out an hour to 90 minutes in the weight room. Before calling it quits for the day he looks for some kind of competitive situation, either a one-on-one, two-on-two or five-on-five scrimmage to keep sharp. “He spreads all of this out and puts all his time and energy into it right now," said Marty. "He really likes doing this and he’s fortunate to have the time to do it.”

Marty says his son realizes what it means to represent his country, school and community on a team that plays around the world. “It means a lot to him personally and it isn’t lost on him that it is a great opportunity.”

Since making the USA team, Haws continues to find himself in demand to explain his faith and his role as a member of the LDS Church.

This past week, the official website of USA Basketball featured Haws and talked about how his two years as a missionary in Quezon City, Philippines broadened his horizons. In short, young Haws has been a focal point for many positive messages to both youths and adults across the world.

A couple of years ago, both his parents, Marty and Tiffanie, were featured in a church video on Tyler’s basketball career and how he put it on hold as he served a two-year mission to the Philippines. As talented as their son was in basketball, he sacrificed developing it to serve the people of the Philippines, a country that could have brought Haws dangerously close to hepatitis A and B, typhoid, Japanese encephalitis and malaria.

Back in high school, Tyler was chosen by the LDS church to be the center of a worldwide training film for Aaronic priesthood quorums teaching youths how to lead and conduct meetings and care for members. Shortly after making the USA team and flying to Russia, he spoke at a church fireside in Colorado Springs, Colo., sandwiching in his remarks between a practice and team meetings.

This isn’t lost on the exposure-conscious BYU basketball coaches who were involved in summer camps the week Tyler packed for Russia.

“Our staff was thrilled. We were living and dying with every word out of Colorado Springs whether he made the team, and when he did, we were all high-fiving each other in the room before calling Marty and Tyler,” said assistant coach Tim LaComb.

“It is a great honor to represent the country and we know how hard Tyler worked to get there.”

Lacomb said Tyler making the USA team is one more thing BYU’s program can point to in recruiting.

“There are a lot of things that people talk about in recruiting but we try to talk about our own. We had the opportunity to coach the national player of the year in Jimmer Fredette; we made it to the Sweet 16; and now one of our own was invited to try to make the USA team and is now playing in the World University Games in Russia.”

In short, it’s been a long journey from Utah County to Kazan, where Haws will rub shoulders with Luke Hancock of Louisville’s NCAA championship squad, Baylor’s Cory Jefferson, Creighton's Doug McDermott and Spencer Dinwiddie from Colorado — to name a few.

But in a sense, it’s a beginning for Haws, who has taken his game from the national stage to a world setting.

Utah couldn’t ask for a better representative of the Beehive State.

Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at dharmon@desnews.com.

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