Nashif, a walk-on for the BYU basketball program, takes that as a compliment. "> Nashif, a walk-on for the BYU basketball program, takes that as a compliment. ">

Meet Terry Nashif

Terry Nashif has started making enough of an impact on the basketball court this season that he's getting recognized in local restaurants.<BR> Last week, one admirer told him "you're even shorter then I thought."<BR> Nashif, a walk-on for the BYU basketball program, takes that as a compliment.

    While his parents, Bruce and Kathy, are both under 5'6", Terry has grown to almost 5'10" but--more importantly--has grown into a key role as the backup point guard for the Cougars.

    In BYU's 69-56 win over UC Santa Barbara last week, Nashif scored 9 points in 17 minutes and sparked several rallies that helped lift the Cougars to their 40th straight home win.

    But it almost never happened.

    He grew up watching the Cougars on television, just not basketball.  His first love was BYU football and after having an all-conference season as a wide receiver, he hoped that BYU might come calling.  They did, only it was to see teammate Bryce Mahuika, a sophomore corner, who later inked with the Cougars.

    That left Nashif, a 4.0 student who also was the student body president at Evergreen High School in Vancouver, Washington, without many options.

    His high school basketball team, on which he was the starting point guard, had a remarkable 25-1 season, losing by a narrow margin in the semi-finals to eventual state champion Walla Walla.  But the only schools showing interest were Portland State and Harvard, and no scholarship offers came.

    So one month after graduation he left for a church mission to Columbia, South Carolina.  He left his thoughts about sports behind like missionaries are supposed to do.  Oh, there was the time when he and his companion had to challenge some street toughs to a pickup game in order to quiet their verbal abuse.  And the occasional talk with fellow missionary Trent Staley about Staley's younger brother, Luke, who was enjoying a phenomenal freshman season at the time.  Oh, and the time when he was an Assistant to the President and organized 4:30 a.m. basketball games against other missionaries.

    Really, though, he says that football and basketball were far from his thoughts as he taught the gospel and "fell in love" with the people of South Carolina.  Himself a descendant of Lebanese immigrants, he appreciated the diversity that he saw and the struggles that the people faced.

    When Nashif returned from his mission he called Coach Dave Rose at BYU to ask him if he could walk-on.  Rose knew him from summer camps and suggested that he keep working hard and to check in with the coaches when school started.

    The beginning of the semester wasn't easy for him.  He had to work out at Gold's Gym because he wasn't a member of the BYU team yet, then run to the Marriott Center because he didn't have a car.  He'd fill in at BYU practices whenever someone was injured and they needed another point guard for drills.  He played in every open game he could get.

    It seemed like he would never make it.  He questioned if it was worth the time, worth all the trouble.

    Then midway through the Fall semester, an assistant coach called him and said "you've made the team. Come and get a locker."

    Last year he played sparingly as veteran Matt Montague guided the team.  This year, the Cougars brought in junior college transfer Kevin Woodbury to run the point, but Nashif has proven more then capable as Woodberry's backup.  In the Paradise Jam championship win against St. Bonaventure, he played 23 valuable minutes in relief of Woodberry.

    But it wasn't until last week's outing against Santa Barbara that the home fans got to see Nashif's skills.  His poise and strength (he benches 300 pounds and boasts a team-leading 270 pound power clean) were evident as he ran the BYU offense with precision and held off the Gaucho's tenacious press.  He received a wild--and well deserved--ovation from the fans when he left the game in the final moments.       

    For Nashif, the personal recognition isn't as important as the team winning.  He believes that this team will not only contend for a conference title but can win games in the NCAA tournament.

    But as for being short, he knows there isn't much he can change about that.  Perhaps when 7'0" roommate Dan Howard gets married and they stop hanging out around town together so much his diminutive stature won't be quite so noticeable.  Until then, don't worry about mentioning his lack of height. He'll take it as a compliment.

Total Blue Sports Top Stories