When Tyler Haws walks off the Marriott Center floor for the last time on Thursday evening, he will leave behind one of the most prolific careers of any player to ever put on a BYU uniform.
Whether it happens in his final home game or during the Cougars' road trip to the Pacific Northwest next week, it is a virtual certainty that Haws will surpass Jimmer Fredette and stand alone as the leading scorer in school history. It's going to happen — it's just a matter of when.
The fact that Fredette's record has fallen so soon after he left Provo himself underscores just how fortunate BYU fans have been over the last five years. Not only did they get to enjoy the dizzying heights of Jimmermania, replete with joys of watching perhaps the best player in school history break new ground, but they then followed that up by immediately replacing him with yet another offensive savant — who would go right ahead and rewrite the record books before the ink had even dried.
That's not a normal occurrence. Usually when you get a once-in-a-generation talent, you don't get another one right away. You generally have to wait a while for another player of that caliber to come around — hence the whole "once-in-a-generation" thing. That's why Tyler Haws is so special, and Cougar fans would do well to appreciate his brilliance while they still have the chance.
After all, the accomplishments that the sharpshooting senior has racked up during his time in Provo have been nothing short of breathtaking. In addition to his soon-to-be-set school scoring mark, Haws is the country's active leader in career points — literally no one else playing college basketball right now has scored more points during their career than Haws.
Similarly, he's also the highest scoring player to ever play in the West Coast Conference, even surpassing the great Loyola Marymount legend and longtime record-holder Hank Gathers in total points (although there's some confusion as to whether Haws can be truly be considered the WCC's leading scorer, because he played his freshman season in the Mountain West Conference.)
Closer to home, Haws is BYU's all-time career leader in 20-point games, free throws made, free throw percentage and games started, and he's currently second in free throw attempts, minutes played and double-figure scoring games — all records he could conceivably own by the time he plays his final game next month. That makes for quite the career.
As special as his entire career has been on the whole, Haws' senior season has been equally magnificent on an individual level. He currently ranks third in the nation in scoring average (and has never been ranked lower than seventh since returning from his mission), while also leading the country in total points scored, field goals made and field goals attempted. And if you prefer your stats to be off the advanced variety, Haws currently sits second in Division I in offensive rating.
All of this is made even more amazing when you consider how much the Cougars rely on Haws to carry an astronomically heavy burden. He has taken virtually a full third (32.9 percent) of the team's shots this season, and yet he has managed to remain devastatingly efficient — posting a team-best 28.5 Player Efficiency Rating and a True Shooting Percentage north of 60 percent. That kind of efficiency is rare at the volume that Haws has been asked to turn out — usually the more possessions a player uses, the more difficult it becomes for him to maintain his efficiency — but he still keeps on producing, no matter what is asked of him. And that is the mark of a truly seminal talent.
Some have tried to discount Tyler's legacy by pointing to his team's lack of postseason success during his tenure. If Haws were really so historically great, the logic goes, his teams would have made deeper runs into the NCAA Tournament and maybe even won a conference championship or two. But in fact, there's not much logic to that argument at all. While it's true that BYU hasn't had a great string of results over the past three season, one can hardly blame Haws for not doing his part.
Quite the opposite, actually: he has led the Cougars in win shares (a stat that estimates the number of wins contributed to the team by an individual player through his offensive and defensive contributions) in each of the past three seasons, often by wide margins. This year, Haws has already racked up 5.4 win shares, with several games still to be played. In other words, he is single-handedly responsible for 27 percent of BYU's 20 team wins.
This places Provo's resident scoring machine a full 1.4 win shares ahead of Kyle Collinsworth, the second highest player on the team. That's a massive dropoff (35 percent, to be exact), and one that should serve to illustrate just how essential Haws has been for the Cougars and the extent to which any team success is reliant on his outsized contributions. He is the metaphorical sun around which BYU's entire basketball universe revolves — and without his life-giving light and warmth, no one would survive for very long.
That's why Tyler Haws is great. He does things that no one else can do (not just at BYU, but across the country), and he does them every single night for his team. As much as basketball is a team sport where no one player should be given too much credit for success or too much blame for failure, Haws might be one of the few exceptions. He deserves every accolade, every honor, every shred of praise he's ever gotten — because he's earned them.
You only have a few more opportunities to watch Tyler Haws do amazing things on a basketball court, and I'd suggest you take full advantage while you still can. You might not know it yet, but you — and the Cougars — will miss him dearly when he's gone.