TJ Haws caps off his unprecedented prep career being named 2014's Mr. Basketball
His junior year saw him embrace the role of facilitator, much like he did in the second quarter of his final game against Pleasant Grove. Zach Frampton torched the Vikings in that second quarter for 21 points with TJ gladly yielding the scoring spotlight.
TJ raised his assist average as a junior to almost three more per game — averaging 4.92 for a team most consider the best ever produced by the state. Despite raising his assist average, his scoring average stayed steady at 17.1.
"That was obviously an incredible year," TJ said. "We did some great things and really played like a team. One night it was Nick (Emery), the other night it would be Eric (Mika) and some nights it was me leading the scoring, but it was all about winning for us."
The Knights lost just one game that year to Monteverde Academy (Fla.) before romping through in-state competition to yet another 5A State Championship.
Entering his senior season, TJ took over the primary scoring reigns, just like he did in the second half in his final game against Pleasant Grove. In that game he proved unconscious — shooting 8-14 from behind the arc while doing most of that work in a key third-quarter stretch that all but buried the Vikings.
That final game, and the entire season, almost didn't happen. With three state championships already under his bet, and a huge desire to play at least one season with his brother Tyler at BYU, TJ looked seriously at the option of forgoing his senior season in favor of playing for the Cougars.
"It was a very real thing and something I thought hard about," he confirmed.
What brought him back was the number four. The opportunity to help make history with an unprecedented four state championships in a row played a big role in bringing him back.
“It was a new challenge, and I was excited about that challenge,” he said. “Sure, I knew I was going to miss Nick and Eric, but there were great guys like Zach Frampton coming back, so I looked forward to going into a new season with a new challenge.”
The big challenge involved him having the spotlight shined squarely on him instead of sharing that spotlight with star teammates.
“It was his chance to be away from Nick (Emery), Eric (Mika) and Talon (Shumway) and stand on his own two feet," Lewis said. "You look back and it turned out to be a great decision because that’s exactly what happened. He rose to the challenge and really defined himself as the most successful player in Utah prep history.”
It took TJ a while to completely embrace his new role according to Lewis, but like he did with everything else he rose to both accept it and then thrive with it. He finished his final season raising his scoring average to 25.2 ponts per game, as well as his assist average to 5.2.
Throughout the year TJ not only embraced his role as the primary scoring option, but continued to adjust his play on almost a game-by-game basis according to what was thrown at him defensively.
“That’s what’s remarkable about TJ and what really sets him apart,” Lewis said. “His ability to adjust his game for every defense thrown at him — and believe me when I say he saw everything kind of defense imaginable thrown at him — but his ability to adjust his game to every situation is truly exceptional.”
All in all TJ finished his career as the 12th leading scorer in Utah prep history with 1,896 total points. As remarkable as that feat is, it's made even more so when considering his varying roles within his own team.
"To put up the points he did when considering who he was playing with all four years is truly exceptional," Lewis said. "He could have played just about anywhere and scored at least 23 per game all four years, but that wasn't the case here."
TJ wouldn't have had it any other way.