Riding cloud nine

A man-made storm is brewing in they city of Provo, Utah, and the conjurer is BYU head coach Dave Rose. With the highly talented prospects he's gathered, Coach Rose is swelling the ranks with top LDS athletes. The latest to join the ranks is Ryan Andrus, who will play a year prior to serving a two-year LDS mission.

Coach Rose received another top-caliber basketball commit in American Fork High School star Ryan Andrus. A member of the 2014 class, Andrus is excited about his commitment to BYU.

"I have two words to describe how I feel about committing to BYU: cloud nine," said Andrus with a laugh. "I'm so happy and just excited and looking forward to this opportunity. It's just awesome! I chose BYU for multiple reasons. One is the fact that Coach Rose has built a winning program there. He's averaged 20-plus wins every year since he's been there. Another reason is the positive feeling I get every time I visit BYU. The atmosphere and the environment is just so positive there.

"Also, just the fact of all the guys that will be playing there. I've played with T.J. [Haws] a lot, Nick [Emery], and Erik [Mika], and they're all just incredible athletes. They want me to play a year first, so I would be able to go play with Tyler Haws and Matt Carlino and I think it would be awesome. It's just going to be an incredible experience and everything is just so positive over there."

The 6-foot-10-inch, 220-pound Andrus chose BYU over rival Utah for various reasons.

"I would go up to Utah's campus, and even though they have good academics up there, their basketball program foundation just isn't the same," said Andrus. "Then I would go to BYU and just the feeling of the whole campus is different and the environment is just different. I would go up to Utah and meet with coaches and the feeling is just not there that I felt at BYU being on campus. I'm a LDS guy so being able to play with guys I know who have the same standards and are return missionaries is going to be a lot of fun. Then you have the high academic standards that are there, so BYU is just a special place and all those aspects came into play."

Along with future Cougar teammates Mika, Emery and Haws, Andrus was a first-team all-state selection.

"My junior year I averaged just below 20 points a game," Andrus said. "I averaged around eight rebounds a game. I wanted to boost my points and my rebounds going into my junior year and was able to do that. Also, last year I was selected as a first-team all-state [member], which was actually my goal going into my junior year as well."

As the latest commit to Coach Rose's program, Andrus joins a program lock, stock and loaded with nationally ranked talent. For the 2013 class, Rose gathered together some of the best at their respective positions.

Center Luke Worthington: At 6 feet 8 inches and 235 pounds, Worthington is a three-star athlete out of Homestead High School in Wisconsin who received interest from Butler, Penn, Davidson and Princeton.

Power forward Jakob Hartsock: The younger brother of former Cougar Noah Hartsock, Jakob wasn't rated as highly as the others, but at 6 feet 7 inches and 205 pounds, he is a nice addition to Coach Rose's roster.

Power forward Braiden Shaw: Coming in at 6 feet 8 inches and 200 pounds, Shaw is a three-star prospect out of Eagle High School in Idaho. He averaged about 17 points and 10 rebounds per contest.

Center Eric Mika: Mika is a four-star recruit and was ranked the No. 4 center nationally by Scout. He was a part of a dominant Lone Peak High School team considered the best in the nation.

Shooting guard Nick Emery: Another player for Lone Peak and the younger brother of former Cougar Jackson Emery, Nick is a four-star recruit and was ranked by Scout as the No. 19 shooting guard nationally. He scored 119 points to set the all-time scoring record for the Myrtle Beach Ball Classic Tournament, which previously featured high school players such as Kobe Bryant, Jason Kidd and Mike Bibby.

"I've played with a lot of these guys and they're all just star athletes," said Andrus. "The ability that Coach Rose has to bring in all these star athletes is just incredible. I don't know how they do it, but they do. It's going to be special playing with a lot of those incredible players from 2013 and also guys in my class."

Andrus is one of four commitments for BYU's 2014 recruiting class.

Small forward Jake Toolson: At 6 feet 5 inches and 220 pounds, Toolson is a three-star recruit that passed up Arizona State, Boston College, U.C. Davis and Utah State to join Coach Rose's program. He is related to former Cougars Danny Ainge and Andy Toolson, and averaged 19.8 points and seven rebounds last season. He also shot an incredible 40 percent from behind the three-point line.

Small forward Dalton Nixon: The son of former Cougar Kevin Nixon, Dalton chose BYU over Utah and Utah State. Coming in at 6 feet 7 inches and 200 pounds, Nixon is a three-star recruit out of Orem High School.

Point guard T.J. Haws: A four-star recruit, T.J. is ranked No. 11 nationally among point guards. His brother Tyler is currently starring for the Cougars, while his father Marty also played for BYU. At 6 feet 3 inches and 170 pounds, T.J. is just another impressive, versatile guard who can create off the dribble and run the floor while shooting from just about anywhere.

Now with his commitment to Coach Rose, Andrus will bring his versatile play to Coach Rose's team. The American Fork product feels that his style of play fits perfectly with Coach Rose's system.

"Along with being able to play with guys that play in a similar way that I do, I just think the style of play of running up and down the court fits me perfectly," said Andrus. "That's pretty much what I like to do is run the floor and push the ball upcourt. Being able to play with Mika at the five, while having me at the four, we're going to be able to run the floor and that's going to be huge for the program because that's our style of play. BYU was top in the country last year for the most possessions, which tells you how well they run the floor. Just being able to play with all of those guys is going to be great."

With the quality of talent Andrus will be affiliated with, BYU basketball fans will dream of this program's potential long into the future. Being a part of that basketball tsunami swelling up over the horizon is a wave Andrus just had to ride.

"It's indescribable," Andrus said. "With a lot of these guys whose bodies are still maturing and having reach their full potential, this program is going to be scary. When you get all of those guys all on one court reaching their full potential while building chemistry is going to be scary and amazing. I'm excited to have the chance to play with these guys. There is no limit in what we can do."

Andrus believes that with the talent being gathered in Provo, BYU will be able to make some great tournament runs in the future.

"You know, obviously any goal of any team is to win a championship and I think we'll have the talent to make a good run at that," Andrus said. "I think we can win a national championship. I've never told Coach Rose that but I know he's thinking it. It's every kid's dream to play basketball at this level, but to be on a team like this and have a shot to go to the big dance and go far is rare. It would really mean a lot to me.

"I can't talk championship because I never won a state championship, but to be able to win a national championship at the college level with those guys that have won state championships would be incredible. Individually, I'm going to go there and work my butt off. I'm going there to put my time in and dedicate myself to being the best I can be on and off the court. I want to show the coaches that I'm there to work to try and accomplish some great things at BYU."

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