Tonight's NIT is a return to Utah for Pleasant Grove native C.J. Wilcox. He'll be battling a longtime-rival when the Huskies face the Cougars.
C.J. Wilcox and Tyler Haws started battling in sixth grade.
Even before each became their respective college team’s leading scorer, Wilcox and Haws would go at it.
They’ll have another shot at each other tonight when Wilcox’s Huskies (18-15) travel to play at Haws’ BYU Cougars (21-11) in the first round of the NIT in Provo, Utah.
Wilcox played for Pleasant Grove High School, about a 20-minute drive from Provo.
Haws, a 6-foot-5 sophomore guard who averages 20.9 points per game, played for nearby Lone Peak High School.
From sixth grade on, Wilcox and Haws were intertwined by basketball.
In seventh grade, they played on an AAU team called the Wildcats and went on to play together on Salt Lake City Metro, which Haws’ father, Marty, a former BYU star, and Wilcox’s father, Craig, helped coach.
Then came high school. Pleasant Grove was in the same region as Lone Peak when Wilcox and Haws were there. Haws broke out his sophomore year, and became a sensation when he was named Utah’s Mr. Basketball during his junior and senior seasons.
Haws averaged 20.8 points per game his junior year in 2008. Wilcox led the state in scoring that season with 23.7.
As a senior, Haws poured in 23.4 points per game, Wilcox scored 22.2. Naturally, fans came out when they met twice a year.
“We played one time at our place and one time at their place,” Haws said. “I remember the games were sold out and the gym would be full an hour before the game even started. Standing-room only. It would just get so loud and crazy.”
Haws finished with 1,772 points in his high school career. Many rated Haws as the state’s top prospect and Wilcox second.
“We always had that respect for each other,’ Haws said. “It never got to a point where we wouldn’t talk during the game. Obviously, both of us are competitors and both wanted to win. They were always battles. We’ve never lost that respect for each other.”
Tonight, the duo gets another go at each other, though they will likely be guarded by others. Scott Suggs will likely start on Haws, though it's safe to assume Washington will switch most picks.
Haws has a nice midrange game, can shoots 3 and likes to score in transition.