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Tom Smart, Deseret News
BYU's Noah Hartsock shoots past USF's Angelo Caloiaro as Brigham Young University plays University of San Francisco in men's basketball Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, in Provo, Utah.


Taking stock of the Hartsock line.

Before 6-foot-8 BYU senior Noah Hartsock was born, his father David was part of small army of gym rats who'd take over what they called the Mini Mac, or the lower campus old women's gym on University Avenue in Provo.

In the 70s, if you loved hoops, this was the place to be in Utah County as former college and high school players divided themselves up and went to war. Winners stayed on the court, losers had to get back in line. John Payne, a Provo postal employee did a lot of the organizing and David Hartsock found himself right in the mix. Everyone officiated himself, like golf.

"I was a shooter. There wasn't a shot I didn't like," said David Hartsock Saturday morning from his home in Bartlesville, Okla., it was a lot of fun."

David played with a lot of former Provo High School athletes, guys like Giff Nielsen, Corey Sorensen (father of BYU safety Daniel Sorensen), Steve Brown, Terry Casper, Steve Dewey, Dev Duke, former UNLV center Brett Vroman, Kelly Harris with Chris Dowling and Rob Church.

In the realm they battled, it was big time. My brother Kent was in the mix and remembers David Hartsock like yesterday. "He was exactly like Noah. He played like him, shot like him and you'd think it was him," Kent told me this weekend.

"I remember John Payne, he was king of the gym rats," said David, now a chemical engineer in Oklahoma. "I wasn't a slasher or a dunker, just a shooter, like Noah a little bit.

David got involved with the gym rats as a freshman at BYU and picked it back up when he returned from an LDS mission. He never imagined someday one of his six children would be the WCC's most accurate shooter and top shot blocker. Maybe even player of the year.

"He wasn't the most athletic of my six boys," said David. "Noah was No. 5. He started playing in elementary school and I watched him and thought, 'this kid's never going to be a player,' but by the fifth grade he started showing some promise. He was the one who loved basketball the most and spent a lot of time in the gym. He had a tremendous work ethic and just got better every year."

Then he became the 6A player of the year in Oklahoma.

This past month the WCC named Noah the player of the month in the league after he averaged 17.9 points per game on 58 percent shooting, while pulling down six rebounds per game in leading the Cougars to a 7-2 month. The Oklahoma native scored 19 or more points five times during the month, and connected on 38-of-45 free throw attempts (84.4 percent). Hartsock blocked 15 shots during the month, including four in a victory over Oregon and four in a win at Utah.

The week of this honor, Hartstock helped guide BYU to its first WCC road victory by scoring 13 of his 21 points in the second half at Loyola Marymount to key a comeback win.

On Saturday in a win over San Francisco, Hartsock plugged away with his trademark unselfish play, a game devoid of taking bad shots, and his patented fade-away jumper from the 17-foot range.

Dave Hartsock couldn't be prouder of his son.

"We're fortunate all our kids have turned out well. Noah works hard, he's got a good disposition. We haven't been trying to make basketball players, we've tried to make good men and if he turns out to be a good basketball player in the process that's good and we're really happy for him."

On Saturday, Dave tuned in and watched his son and the Cougars right before I asked him about his degree in gym rat-ology back in the day in Provo.

"I think John Payne still works at the Provo Post Office," said David. "I remember it all. Now, I can hardly walk, but those were the good 'ole days."

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