Haws ready to be back in action

If there's one area that the BYU men's basketball team needs to improve on this season, it's shooting. Last year's team was very un-BYU-like in its shooting, particularly from outside. BYU shot 34.3 from three, the worst of any of Rose's Cougar teams. However, the team's shooting is getting a big shot in the arm this season thanks to the return of Tyler Haws from his mission to the Philippines.

Tyler Haws had a great freshman season in 2009-10. He averaged 11.3 points per game and shot 49.8 percent from the field, and also proved to be a strong rebounder.

It's been a long time coming, but Haws is finally about to begin his sophomore season.

"It feels great [to be back]," said Haws. "I've been back about six months now. I got back in April, and the body's feeling good finally. It's been kind of a tough road getting back into shape, but I feel like I'm ready to go."

Sometimes players return from their missions with far less time to readjust and get back into shape, as was the case with Noah Hartsock and Nate Austin. However, Haws had the luxury of having plenty of time before the start of the 2012-13 season.

"I'm very grateful that I had the time that I did, and kind of took it really slow. I didn't want to jump into anything too quick, but the body's feeling great right now."

Haws said he didn't even get in any pickup games his first few months back. Instead, he just focused on individual work, namely hitting the weights.

He worked hard, "but I was smart as well. I listened to my body and I didn't want to do too much too soon, so I feel like I've been smart with it but also kind of pushed myself to get back to where I was."

The results have not been lost on Coach Rose.

"He looks great," Rose said about Haws. "I think that physically he has worked as hard as anybody we've had as far as returning from a mission to get himself in shape."

Haws himself is evidently happy with the progress that he's been able to make, as he said he feels like he is where he was right when he left for his mission, and that he feels healthy and strong.

But while he may be in great physical shape again, there's more to basketball. For one thing, there's a player's shooting touch.

As a true freshman, Haws was one of the best pure shooters to have played for Rose at BYU. In addition to being an outside threat, Haws demonstrated an excellent midrange game, a talent that many upperclassmen don't even have.

Fortunately he did get to do some shooting as a missionary during his free time, even if it wasn't under ideal circumstances.

"We'd play a lot, but it wasn't the best ball," Haws said with a smile. "But I feel like I've come back and I've gained lots of experience on my mission that I couldn't have gotten any other way, and so I think it will help my basketball game for sure."

When asked how his shooting compares to before his mission, Haws replied, "I feel great. I feel like I've worked really hard to get that stuff back and feel comfortable again, and I'm looking forward to a good season."

Now that he's about to resume his college basketball career, Haws can also finally resume his active free throw streak. Prior to leaving for his mission, he finished his freshman season with 48 consecutive made foul shots, a BYU record.

A lot of people have brought up his free throw streak when talking to him, he admitted with a laugh.

"I just gotta step up there and make the next one, take them one at a time."

One major change that took place while Haws was a missionary was BYU's move to the West Coast Conference. As a freshman, Haws competed in the Mountain West Conference, but will now be going up against different opponents in league play.

"You know, it is a little strange," he said about no longer being in the MWC. "That's what I grew up watching and that's where I played my freshman year. But I feel like the West Coast Conference is a great conference, and [it has] lots of great teams, great players."

After being a starter for most of his freshman year, Haws said he feels capable of coming in and starting on day one of this upcoming season.

"Wherever Coach wants me, I'll do it, but I want to play and want to be on the court and help the team win."

One can only imagine how eager Haws must be. The 2010-11 season featured the winningest team in school history (breaking the record set by the team his freshman year). The Cougars reached the Sweet 16 for the first time in many years, and were at one point ranked as high as third in the entire nation. Having left for his mission months before that season started, he just barely missed out on being a part of that success.

"It was tough at times, but I wouldn't trade my mission experience for anything," Haws said. "I did hear about [the team's success while I was gone]. My dad kept me updated through email and I heard about it through some members, but I feel like my mission was the best thing that could have happened to me."

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