UTAH COUNTY — Most BYU basketball fans should remember the names Marty Haws and Kevin Nixon. Haws led the team from the point during some of BYU’s best years in the late '80s while Nixon contributed to the frontcourt in the early '90s. Haws is generally considered as one of the top guard talents ever to pass through BYU, while Nixon’s 54-foot shot at the buzzer to beat UTEP in the conference championships won’t soon be forgotten.
Turns out that both former Cougars have sons, and, as one could well assume, those sons aren’t too bad at dribbling a basketball.
So how good are they? Using the recent 5A and 4A state tournament as models, both would seem to be among the best the state has to offer.
Lone Peak’s TJ Haws and Orem’s Dalton Nixon both led their teams to state championships while picking up tournament MVP honors. Accomplishing that feat is impressive, but doing it as mere sophomores is nothing short of exceptional.
TJ is a well-known commodity to BYU fans who follow recruiting. He joined with teammate Nick Emery in committing to BYU this past summer.
TJ is a 6-3 combo guard whose stellar play in the semifinals led Lone Peak to the win over tournament favorite West Jordan. He again led the team in the finals, scoring 22 points in the first half before shutting it down for much of the second in Lone Peak’s blowout win over Brighton.
TJ is the younger brother of Tyler Haws, who also won the 5A tournament MVP when he was just a sophomore. Tyler went on to finish out one of the more accomplished prep careers in state history, making TJ’s matching of his brother’s pace remarkable. According to his AAU coach Golden Holt, TJ has all the tools to be even better than Tyler, which would be a major accomplishment.
Indeed, Haws has become a well-known basketball name in the state and amongst BYU fans, but what about the Nixon name?
Dalton Nixon entered the 4A state tournament without the recognition nor the college attention that Haws had received. Following his accomplishments, though, that recognition from fans — and, more importantly, from college recruiters — is bound to arrive shortly.
Nixon is a 6-7 forward who showed skill and poise beyond his years throughout the year and into the state tournament, leading Orem to its first state championship in school history.
“That’s just the way he is,” said his father Kevin. “He never gets too excited about anything, and I think that was a big help to him during the state tournament.”
Dalton was able to beat Olympus in the finals from inside and from the perimeter, utilizing a well-honed set of skills that he’s worked hard in developing since he was a sixth-grader. Mentoring Dalton was obviously his father Kevin, who was hesitant to push his son into becoming the player he is today.
“I wanted Dalton to pursue what he wanted, so even though I thought that talent was there, I wanted him to want it and to make sure it’s what he wanted,” said Kevin. “Around the fifth or sixth grade he told me that he wanted to do whatever it took to become a great basketball player.”
Kevin, with good knowledge of the work it takes, set out to help develop his son into “a great basketball player.” It’s taken a lot of hard work, but according to Kevin, Dalton doesn’t let a day go by without working on something to improve his game.
As one could well imagine, Dalton has received early interest from college programs — specifically from BYU, Utah, Utah State, Hawaii and Creighton. That interest is bound to increase significantly after his MVP tournament and as he preps for AAU ball and summer camps.
Dalton has yet to join up with and AAU team but likes the option of playing with his good friend Jared Stutzman from Idaho, who has also received early interest from a lot of the same schools. Regardless of when and where that interest comes from, Dalton looks to be well on his way in becoming a top collegiate prospect.
“He’s way ahead of where I was when I was his age,” said Kevin. “I think I did pretty well, but I wasn’t doing the things that Dalton is doing now when I was his age. It’s important now to not get a big head, and I think Dalton has been good with that. He also has to keep on working, and I think he’ll definitely continue with that, and we’re excited. It’s been a good run so far.”
Email: [email protected] Twitter: @BrandonCGurney