SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Sports) - Tyler Haws is back from serving his LDS mission, but now he's on a different sort of mission. Haws could become just the second BYU player in school history to score at least 20 points in the first seven games of a season when the Cougars take on Montana tonight at EnergySolutions Arena.
Not even the great Jimmer Fredette accomplished that feat. Only Devin Durrant scored 20 or more points in the first seven games during the 1983-1984 season. Haws could own the school record by himself by the end of the weekend.
"It's awesome when you can be put in a category like that," Haws said. "But our main objective is just to go out and win basketball games. However I can help the team, I'm going to do it."
Haws is 10th in the nation in scoring at 23.3 points per game, and is coming off a career-high 32-point performance against Cal State Northridge. It's been an incredible return for Haws, who didn't play basketball for two years while serving his mission in the Philippines. Head coach Dave Rose has never seen anything like it.
"Not to this point, no," Rose said. "I've seen guys come back in great shape, and I've seen guys come back and be ready to play. But to be as effective as he's been scoring, I've never seen it. "I mean, he's gotten off to a much better start after not playing for two years than he did coming out of high school."
How is that possible? Well, Haws said he learned to become more focused while being away from the game.
"I feel like I came back from my mission a little bit smarter, more grown up and a little more mature," Haws said.
"It didn't surprise me," said point guard Craig Cusick. "I saw Tyler when he came off his mission and how he was performing and he didn't have much rust. He's playing extremely well for us."
While Haws was not thinking about basketball overseas, he did get into a few pick-up games.
"They love basketball in the Philippines," Haws said. "So, we'd play with members, and they're all [not very] tall. So, I'd play center. It was just kind of fun messing around. I did get to work on my post moves."
When Haws did return to Utah back in April, it took him a while to get back into a basketball mindset.
"It was during a pick-up game," Haws recalled. "I remember catching a ball for the first time and feeling like, shoot, what do I do with it?"
Haws has figured it out, alright. Perhaps the most amazing part of his offensive explosion is the fact that he is making 50 percent of his shots, and has knocked down 31 of 33 free throws (94 percent).
"My goal is to take good shots," Haws said. "If they go in, that's a plus."
Through six games, those shots are going in.