TJ Haws caps off his unprecedented prep career being named 2014's Mr. Basketball
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
HIGHLAND — Lone Peak’s TJ Haws donned the No. 11 jersey throughout his career, but the number that best defines that career? That would be the number four.
Four times a starter for the Lone Peak varsity team. Four times named an all-state performer. And most importantly, four straight 5A state championships.
Phenomenal accomplishments that are truly unprecedented in the annals of Utah prep basketball.
“There’s no doubt that he’s the most successful basketball player in Utah prep history,” assessed Lone Peak Coach Quincy Lewis.
As far as being the best player in Utah prep history? Lewis believes Haws is in the discussion.
“There’s been some great ones like Devin Durrant, Danny Vranes, Brett Vroman, Britton Johnsen, and some others, but he’s there with them," Lewis said. "As far as the most successful player in Utah prep history, though? There’s no question. It’s TJ Haws.”
Haws recently polished off his extraordinary prep career with an 84-66 5A championship win over Pleasant Grove at the Huntsman Center. As he left the prep hardwood for the last time, he proudly extended four fingers high in the air before celebrating with his teammates on the bench.
Haws finished with 29 points in a game that served as a sort of microcosm for his entire four-year stint at Lone Peak. Much like he did throughout his career, Haws alternately took on the role of jump-starter, facilitator and first-scoring option against the Vikings.
The early stages saw Haws jump-start his team with a 3-point bucket and midrange jump shot to secure a 5-2 lead. It was the type of instant impact he provided throughout his freshman year.
The original plan for Haws that first year was not to place too much on him in the wake of his brother Tyler Haws' exceptional career. Tyler had just graduated with two Deseret News Mr. Basketball awards, two 5A state championships and 1,772 career points notched on his belt in what may have been the most successful prep career up to that point.
“Based on what his brother had done, I didn’t want him to feel the weight of those expectations,” Lewis recalled. “I wanted him to grow into who he was going to be, but he grew pretty fast. We came to realize pretty quickly that he was just ready. He was ready from that first game on.”
TJ's first game was against West at Utah Valley University's arena, and like Tyler, he received a starting assignment out of the gate.
TJ admits to being a bit antsy for his varsity debut.
"I was super nervous — more nervous than I thought I'd be," he said. "I remember taking my first shot. It was a 3-pointer and I banked it in because I think I just had a lot of nerves. It got better after that."
Much better, as it were.
TJ finished with 14 points against West and continued to play a big role throughout his freshman year. He averaged 13.8 points as a freshman — good for second on the team to then-sophomore sensation Nick Emery. He was also named as a second-team all-state performer.
TJ capped off that first season with a great performance in the 5A state tournament including a clutch performance in the semifinal game versus Fremont. In that game he played a central role in Lone Peak coming back from a 15-point deficit in the second half to advance to the state championship game where it defeated American Fork.
“I learned early on that I liked playing on the big stage,” TJ said.
TJ went on to raise all his numbers his sophomore year which culminated into yet another 5A state championship. He averaged 17.4 points, captured first-team all-state honors on top of 5A state tournament MVP honors.