It was good for me because I always had all of Tyler’s friends to play basketball with. I had a confidence playing against them. I loved getting in for a minute and trying to play against them. —T.J. Haws
HIGHLAND — Screeching sneakers and hollow echoes puncture the soothing sound of nature’s summer lullaby. It’s early on a Saturday morning, but without the comforts of freshly squeezed orange juice, fruit-covered waffles, or an opportunity for weekend relaxation.
Resting isn’t an option for Lone Peak guard TJ Haws.
He skillfully avoids fold-up chairs positioned at various court locations to simulate game-like movement. Square the hips and fire in rhythm — 700 times. It's a self-regulated regiment Haws follows religiously from 6 to 8 a.m. six days per week. After he makes 300 two-pointers, 300 3-pointers and 100 free throws, he's ready for the day.
“That takes a remarkable amount of discipline, especially in the summer,” Lone Peak coach Quincy Lewis said. “I don’t care if it’s a high school kid or not.”
The routine isn’t a New Year’s resolution. Haws possesses the same characteristics his father, Marty, and his brother, Tyler, displayed in high school and beyond — the unique combination of talent fused with relentless dedication.
“It always has to come from the kid,” Lewis said. “That’s the way it has to be. If the dad is the one always pushing than it’s never going to be as good as anybody hopes. I can tell you: It’s Tyler and TJ at the end of the day.”
Over four years, TJ Haws steadily evolved into one of the most polished players in state history, improving his scoring average each year since his freshman season. Like a coral reef barracuda, he’s an offensive predator with an ability to attack in an assortment of ways. He’s capable from the perimeter, automatic from mid-range, a 90 percent free-throw shooter and a sure-handed finisher at the rim.
“As far as a shooter, he’s probably one of the best, if not the best (I’ve coached against), and I think this year he’s really expanded his game,” said American Fork coach Doug Meacham, who has faced Haws eight times. “He can create his shot with just a minimal amount of space. He’s one of those players that you have to team defend.”
In 91 career games, Haws has reached double figures 79 times and surpassed 20 points 32 times. After 14 games this season, he leads 5A in scoring at 24 points per game while connecting on 48 percent of his attempts. Three times he’s eclipsed 30 points and against Westlake he set the school record with 40 points and added nine assists for good measure.
“My dad always talks about scoring in different ways,” Haws said. “If we can put pressure in more than one way — we’re not just a deep shooter or strong around the basket — we get a little bit of everything. It’s hard for the defense to guard.”
“Sometimes the best coaching you can do is to stay out of a kid's way,” Lewis added. “Sometimes you’ve got to do that with TJ. As long as he’s a team player you’re going to let him play, which he is obviously.”
It seemed fictional to imagine Haws achieving the same feats as his family members when he entered the Lone Peak program as a skinny, red-headed freshman in 2010. Marty was a 100-meter sprint champion and all-stater in football, basketball and track at Hillcrest High, while Tyler, who was honored as the Deseret News Mr. Basketball in 2008 and 2009, is widely considered one of the best high school basketball players the state of Utah has ever produced.
“It was good for me because I always had all of Tyler’s friends to play basketball with,” TJ said. “I had a confidence playing against them. I loved getting in for a minute and trying to play against them."
Haws used expectations associated with his last name and the challenge of establishing his own legacy to fuel his motivation.
“The way he’s going with his scoring right now he’s going to wind up in the top 10 (all time),” Lewis explained. “Then you look at what his team has done and what he’s done in big games — it would be pretty hard to say there are guys more successful than him.”
Haws has little left to accomplish in high school. He’s a three-time state champion with a career record of 84-7. He’s mastered techniques many players never attempt, which is why he contemplated reclassifying to the Class of 2013 to begin his career at BYU early. But his competitive nature compelled him to return.
“I felt like I wasn’t done here,” Haws said. “I want one more state championship. That’s all I have left, so hopefully we can get that done.”10 comments on this story
Another championship would launch Haws into rarefied territory. As a four-year starter, he would become the first player to capture four state titles in history.
Which is precisely why resting isn’t an option.