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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Brigham Young Cougars forward Yoeli Childs (23) and Brigham Young Cougars guard Taylor Maughan (13) pretend to shoot baskets during media day in Provo on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018.

PROVO — BYU guards TJ Haws and Nick Emery have been playing basketball together for years. They’ve not only been longtime teammates, but they’ve also been longtime friends.

Last November, Emery withdrew from school and was sidelined for the 2017-18 season due to personal issues and an NCAA investigation dealing with allegations of him accepting improper benefits from a booster.

A lot has happened since then, both for the Cougar basketball team and for Emery.

Emery is back on the Cougar roster — he was reinstated in June — though he’ll have to sit out the first nine games as mandated by the NCAA.

I’m super proud of Nick to come back after all he’s been through. It’s an amazing thing. I don’t think very many people know what he’s been through.
BYU guard TJ Haws

Still, Haws, as well as the rest of the team, is thrilled that Emery is part of the program again.

“First off, I’m super proud of Nick to come back after all he’s been through. It’s an amazing thing. I don’t think very many people know what he’s been through,” Haws said during Thursday’s annual Media Day. “To see him mentally overcome what he has is an incredible thing. He’s been playing very well. The intensity he brings to practice and the competitiveness he brings to practice is so good for us. I think we’re going to see big things from Nick this year and I’m glad to have him back.”

Emery was not made available to reporters Thursday.

The 6-foot-2 junior from Lone Peak High scored 1,032 points in his first two seasons at BYU and he’s knocked down 172 of 455 3-pointers (37.8 percent).

Because he won’t be eligible to play until early December, Emery is helping the team now in a different way.

“It’s great to have him back. Nick is in a unique role for him. He’s playing on the scout team. He’s with the second unit each day,” said coach Dave Rose. “It’s given him a chance to be free and play and compete and feel really positive and excited to be in the gym. He’s back to that guy who’s one of the first ones in and one of the last ones to leave. It’s a great thing to see for him … When you see him play in practice, he’s extremely aggressive. He’s grown up a lot but he has a real special competitive spirit for this game after not playing for a year and wondering if he would play again. I have a lot of conversations with Nick during the week. He’s doing really well in school. I think he’s back on track to be able to get himself a degree and have a great college career.”

In August, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said that the NCAA’s probe into the basketball program is ongoing. Asked about that Thursday, Rose said that while the Emery situation is resolved, the school is waiting to hear from the NCAA about other issues and hoping that a ruling comes by the first week of November.

The Cougars open the 2018-19 season at Nevada Nov. 6.

In the meantime, BYU will make the most of Emery’s experience and leadership in practices.

“I love Nick. He’s a great guy. I’m really happy about him and everything he’s been able to get through to get where he is today,” said forward Yoeli Childs. “I think he’s going to help our team out a ton, especially at the beginning of the year when he’s on the practice squad. He’s going to give us great looks. One of the biggest things that go into a great season that people don’t notice is the practice squad, the guys you’re going against every day. He’s happy. He’s a great teammate. He’s encouraging guys and being a leader.”

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“Nick looks really good. I’ve been a longtime friend of his and I want nothing but the best for him,” said forward Dalton Nixon. “He’ll be a tremendous part of what we want to do this year. When he’s able to contribute, he’ll do a phenomenal job. The whole team loves Nick, we support him and we think he’ll do a great job this year.

“Nick is definitely in a better place and that will translate to the basketball court,” Nixon added. “The support of the coaching staff and the team for Nick over the last year has helped him get in a position where he can come back and do what he loves — and that’s basketball. I’m excited to get on the court with Nick.”