Just 15 miles from BYU’s Marriott Center, an unlikely high school has made a name for itself in boy’s basketball—and produced nearly a third of the current Cougar roster. The New York Times called Lone Peak High School’s 2013 squad “lanky, long-armed teenagers who look only slightly more imposing than a chess club.” But that same team was awarded the national championship trophy by MaxPreps.com, the definitive source for high school sports rankings. “It was so unusual for a team from Utah, in any sport really, to have something like that happen,” says head coach Quincy Lewis.
Three players from that national-title team committed to play at BYU: freshman forward Eric Mika (’17) is already here, and signees Nick Emery and TJ Haws will join the squad after serving missions. At BYU they join a list of Lone Peak basketball alums that just keeps growing.
The Lone Peak legacy at BYU started with guards Samuel M. Burgess (BS ’08) and Jackson D. Emery (BS ’11)—Emery is still BYU’s all-time leader in steals. Current BYU players Joshua J. Sharp (’14), Nathan D. Austin (’15), and M. Tyler Haws (’15) followed. They’ve been playing together in recreation leagues since middle school. “We know to get the ball to Tyler when he’s hot,” says Sharp. “And if he misses we’re supposed to rebound and pass it back to him,” Austin laughs. “That’s what we’ve been learning since high school.”
They say it’s a fairly smooth transition from Knight to Cougar. Coach Lewis played under Coach Rose at Dixie College in the late ’80s, and both Lone Peak and BYU specialize in an up-tempo transition game. “BYU is known for hustling, flying around, and diving on the floor for loose balls,” says Austin. “I’ve seen that translate from Lone Peak.” No doubt, the BYU environment is attractive to his players who are Latter-day Saints, says Lewis—but even more, they’re drawn to the BYU program’s success. “Dave Rose is the guy they want to play for,” says Lewis.
The two newest signees, Nick Emery and TJ Haws—the little brothers of BYU basketball stars—have some big shoes to fill. “We were drawn to them because their older brothers were . . . so successful,” says Rose, “but their talent is exceptional. When they get here the team will be a bit different, but the system will be similar, and they’ve been watching it for years.”
With Tyler Haws poised to break a dozen BYU records, hopes are high for next year’s team. But this is only the beginning for a Cougar squad packed with Knights. In three years, BYU will have three top-50 recruits running the court together. “That’s usually reserved for the Kentuckys and the UCLAs of the world,” says Lewis.