Toolson joins Cougar basketball

On Tuesday, BYU basketball head coach Dave Rose received a commitment from a young man with a last name that's familiar to BYU fans. Jake Toolson from Highland High School in Arizona gave his word that he would sign at BYU and follow in the footsteps of family members Danny Ainge and Andy Toolson.

"Well, it's really exciting you know," Jake Toolson said about his commitment to BYU. "My cousins played there, my uncle Andy played there, and my uncle Danny Ainge played there. So, I grew up bleeding blue. I've always wanted to put on that BYU uniform and it's been a dream of mine."

Jake does indeed have some famous Cougar genealogy.

"Yeah, my dad's cousin is Andy Toolson, but I just call him Uncle Andy, so his son Conner Toolson, who is playing over at Lone Peak, is really my second cousin but I just call him cousin," said Jake. "Then I just call Andy uncle because we're really close.

"Then my dad's sister – so my aunt – married Danny Ainge, so he's my uncle too. It's really cool to have great guys like them as your uncles that you're close with."

In addition, Ainge's son Austin was a Cougar, and another soon - Cooper - is currently redshirting at BYU before serving a mission.

Meanwhile, in addition to his BYU offer, Jake also had offers from Arizona State, Boston College, U.C. Davis and Utah State. But with the history of BYU basketball in his family, passing up the Cougar scholarship offer was just too hard to do.

"It's about BYU in the family, and so they offered me a scholarship a couple of weeks ago and I just felt it was the time and place for me to commit to," Jake said. "I wasn't going to wait any longer because BYU just felt right for me and I wanted to make it happen. That's why I committed to BYU."

Ainge is the Boston Celtics' General Manager, so Jake wasn't able to get in touch with him on Tuesday and share the big news.

"I tried to call him after I committed but it's the NBA trading deadline so he's locked up, so I couldn't talk to him," Jake said. "I have spoken to Uncle Danny and he told me, because he's always talking with the coaches over there at BYU, that my hard work has been paying off and that he's really excited for me. He did say that BYU is a great place for me and he's really excited. He had nothing but great things to say about Coach Rose and his staff. He really likes the coaching staff at BYU and thinks they're great coaches. He also thinks I can be a great player over there, and he's really excited for me."

In addition to his family ties to BYU, Jake also committed because of the caliber of future Cougar teammates he'll have.

"What also had a big impact on my decision to commit to BYU is the recruiting classes we've got coming up," Jake said. "We've got a lot of guys that can play. I saw myself fitting in with those guys and being able to complement them with my style of play and have a special team."

The 2013 BYU class is currently ranked 21st in the nation by Scout. Those in the class include the following:

Center Luke Worthington: 6-foot-8-inch, 235-pound three-star recruit out of the state of Wisconsin.

Power forward Jakob Hartsock: 6-foot-7-inch, 205-pound two-star prospect – and brother of former BYU Cougar Noah Hartsock – out of Oklahoma.

Center Eric Mika: Considered one of the best big men in the country, Mika is a four-star recruit on Lone Peak High School's No. 1 ranked basketball team. Mika comes in at 6 feet 8 inches, 210 pounds and is a dominant player around the low post.

"Erik down low is such a beast," said Jake.

Power forward Braiden Shaw: At 6 feet 8 inches, Shaw is a three-star recruit and the most dominant player in the state of Idaho.

Shooting guard Nick Emery: A four-star recruit, Emery brings a big-time shooting game to BYU. He's also teammates with Mika at Lone Peak.

"Nick is such a great player and can create off the dribble or shoot the ball from anywhere on the court," said Jake. "He's such a great player on the floor and he can really play. It got me really excited to play with him in the future and the rest of those guys."

The 2014 recruiting class so far is also very talented.

Shooting forward Dalton Nixon: At 6 feet 7 inches and 190 pounds, Nixon is a three-star prospect and is dominant around the basket.

"With Dalton, he can really stretch the floor," Jake said. " … He can play small forward and really post up down low. He's really good around the basket."

Point guard T.J. Haws: The brother of current Cougar Tyler Haws and son of former Cougar Marty Haws, T.J. is a four-star prospect and has great ball-handling skills. He's also a shooter from every spot on the court.

"T.J. is a scorer and he wants the ball in his hands and he needs to take shots because he can score," said Jake. "I just think the more weapons we have on the floor, the harder it's going to be to stop us."

When it comes to his own game, Jake considers himself a diverse player with a wide range of abilities.

"I've always been able to shoot the ball really well," Jake said. "I averaged around 22 points a game and around seven rebounds, so from around 30 feet and in you have to guard me. I can dribble and I can pass. A lot of the points I scored this year was down on the block and I can score with my back towards the basket.

"I try to make teams know where I am on the court and have to guard me. I'm 6'5", so I can play the two. I think I'll fit in well at BYU because the one thing BYU teams have are good outside shooters. I can pretty much play any position and I'm more like a shooting guard. I can handle the ball and BYU really liked that a lot. I'll probably play the two or the off-guard. I like to push the ball and will fit in well with the rest of those coming in at BYU."

Jake intends on serving a mission but hasn't decided when.

"Yeah, I plan on serving a mission but I'm not sure what I'm going to do," he said. "I don't know if I'm going to go play a year first or just go right out of high school and then play for four years. I haven't really thought about it yet. The coaches are fine either way. When I get back from my mission, Nick Emery, Braden Shaw and Erik Mika will all be back and so will some of the other guys we have coming in. T.J. and Dalton and I will join those guys later and we all will bring something different to the court that will be hard to stop. We'll have so many weapons on the team that it's going to be exciting for the future."


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