Tyler Haws is on the verge of going where no Cougar has gone before.
Well, at least not since 1983.
Haws has survived the initial round of cuts at USA Basketball training camp, moving one step closer to representing his country at the World University Games in July. Head coach Bob McKillop — who coaches at Davidson for his day job — cut the pool of 25 camp invitees down to 16 players on Tuesday, with Haws still very much in the running to secure one of the 12 roster spots for the team's trip to Kazan, Russia. McKillop is expected to make his final personnel decisions on Friday.
If he ultimately makes the team, Haws will be the first BYU player to represent the United States in international competition since Devin Durrant and Mike Smith did so in 1983 at the World University Games and the U-19 World Junior Championships, respectively. That would be a huge achievement for Tyler personally, but also yet another reflection of coach Dave Rose's success in building a program that can produce elite-level players. Or in other words, that whole Jimmer thing might not have been a fluke.
But in order to do that, Haws still has to make the roster, which is not guaranteed. However, he does seem well-positioned at this stage.
While the current 16-man group seems to be set at the point guard and post spots, there is a glut of talent on the wing—and most observers figure that's where the cuts will come from. Fortunately for Haws, he has one skill that sets him apart from the pack and may bode well for his inclusion.
As reported by Sports Illustrated's Andy Glockner, who has attended each training camp practice:
In eyeballing the possible composition of the final roster, there are only four "true" guards left out of the 16 players, so you'd have to assume that Yogi Ferrell, Spencer Diniwddie, Chasson Randle and Sean Kilpatrick all have strong chances to make the trip. The mix could be complicated by the large number of decent-sized wings, though. You have Tyler Haws, Luke Hancock, Jerian Grant and Treveon Graham all in the 6-foot-5, 200-pound range, with various skills that can complement the guards and big men who are left. I still think the team needs as many shooters as it can get, so Haws may get the nod along with Hancock, but we'll see.
The finalists struggled mightily to connect from the longer international three-point line in the first few days of camp, with Haws and Lousiville's Hancock really setting themselves apart as the only players who feel truly comfortable at that distance. Entering an international competition where finesse play and outside shooting are placed at a premium, especially relative to American college basketball, Tyler's ability to convert on open looks off the catch could go a long way toward punching his ticket to Russia.
Beyond his on-court abilities, Haws also has history working in his favor. McKillop heavily recruited him to Davidson as a high school senior, and the Lone Peak star even made an official visit to the school's campus before ultimately committing to BYU. There's certainly a level of familiarity between coach and player, which can be key in a quick tryout situation like this one—and McKillop obviously appreciated Tyler's game in 2009, so reason would dictate that he likes it just as much (if not more) in 2013.
Then again, reason doesn't always rule the day when it comes to basketball. It's more often about how a player fits into a coach's system, meshes with other players on the floor, or fills a roster need. At the end of the day, it's 16 guys for 12 spots — and the final squad will likely be chosen based on some combination of those factors.
Tyler Haws better keep shooting.