TJ Haws is a key returning element to a significant high school bragging right.
The Lone Peak shooting guard played for a national championship a year ago on a team that was unafraid to travel coast-to-coast playing the best high school teams in the country.
This week, Haws and Company step onto a big stage at home.
Haws and his Max Preps preseason No. 15 Lone Peak mates will get a chance to display what’s in store a year after the title when Quincy Lewis’ Knights become a key cornerstone of the third annual FreeTaxUSA Great Southwest Shootout Tournament at Orem High School Thursday through Saturday.
It’s become one of the nation’s premier high school affairs, this time drawing Maryland commit Romelo Trimble, the stud star on Bishop O’Connell (Washington, D.C.) and Colorado Player of the Year De’Ron Williams, who plays on the Denver East team.
Haws is one of four players committed to play for BYU in this event. He joins teammate Frank Jackson, Orem’s Dalton Nixon and American Fork’s Ryan Andrus. In all, 12 players in this tournament have committed to Division I programs.
Haws, 6-4, is as intriguing as any, a Lone Peak starter since his freshman year.
The younger brother of 2013 NCAA top 10 scorer Tyler Haws, TJ has etched out a reputation as a dynamic offensive talent. He’s ranked as the No. 48 player in the country by ESPN. The combination of his shooting range, his dribble-drive skills and myriad moves inside the paint makes him a tough guard. His foot speed approaches that of his father, former Cougar star Marty Haws.
“He is a special talent who has a chance to be a sensational player to watch on the next level,” said tournament director and Orem High coach Golden Holt. “He’s as good as any of those I’ve been around, including his brother and the Emery brothers (Jackson and BYU-bound guard Nick Emery.)" Holt coached AAU teams from Utah that included such stars when they were in grade school.
If you are a basketball aficionado, this is your nest. The best part is that as this event has progressed, its live media coverage has grown with it.
Reserved and general admission tickets are available online at Greatwesternshootout.com and for couch potatoes, games will be streamed worldwide on the Internet through a link on the same site. Featured evening contests will be televised live on KMYU Friday and Saturday. Former voice of Utah Valley University basketball Steve Watts will do the play-by-play.
This event at Orem High is expected to draw key recruiting services and college recruiters. The billboard features four games on Thursday: Bingham against Bishop O’Connell (Va.) at 3:30 p.m. and Lone Peak against Overland (Colo.) at 5 p.m. At night, Orem plays Foothill (Nev.) at 6:40 p.m., followed by American Fork and Denver East (Colo.). Orem and Lone Peak will be featured in second-session Friday night games against Denver East and Bishop O’Connell. On Saturday, the second sessions will be determined to match up the tournament's top talent and teams.
Dominique Collier, a 6-1 guard at Denver East, is ranked as the No. 15 point guard in the country by ESPN. Trimble at Bishop O’Connell, is a 6-3 guard and was a first team All-Met pick by the Washington Post and is Rivals.com’s No. 42 player in the country.
“What we’re trying to do is create a national event that is really plugged in to the community,” said Holt. “We love what is happening with our sponsorships, attendance and the teams who are anxious and eager to come here and play. It’s a lot of fun.”
A year ago, Lone Peak proved how good Utah high school basketball is, that the teamwork, skill development and fundamental play in this state is outstanding. When Utah’s AAU teams play in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Chicago and Florida in these big events, they usually rise to the top.
This week, that theory has a big chance to be tested once again at Orem High.
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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