07262014
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13 BYU basketball facts you probably never knew

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The BYU men’s basketball team might seem like an open book, but they have some secrets up their sleeves. Here are 13 lesser-known facts about the BYU basketball team:

 

1. Ziggy Ansah tried out twice

Ziggy Ansah tried out for the BYU men's basketball team twice before he tried out for BYU's football team. (Photo courtesy BYU Photo)

Ziggy Ansah tried out for the BYU men’s basketball team twice before he tried out for BYU’s football team. (Photo courtesy BYU Photo)

Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah, the fifth overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, tried out twice for the BYU basketball team in 2008 and 2009, but didn’t make it. At that point of rejection, the 6-foot-6 native of Ghana decided to try a new sport in football, where he excelled and is now a starting defensive end for the Detroit Lions.

 

2. Chris Collinsworth endured mission attack

Chris Collinsworth, Kyle Collingsworth's older brother, (Photo courtesy BYU Photo)

Chris Collinsworth, Kyle Collingsworth’s older brother, played for BYU before having ankle surgery that ended his basketball career. (Photo courtesy BYU Photo)

Chris Collinsworth, the older brother of current sophomore guard Kyle Collinsworth and former Cougar himself, served his LDS mission in Australia, where he and his companion were attacked by three men wielding knives. While outnumbered and unarmed, the two endured only a few cuts and bruises and returned to proselyting within a couple of days.

 

3. Tyler Haws has superstitions

BYU standout Tyler Haws is known amongst his teammates for being superstitious. (Photo by Rebecca Lane)

BYU standout Tyler Haws is known for being superstitious. (Photo by Rebecca Lane)

Tyler Haws, the WCC’s leading scorer, has a plethora of superstitions while on the court. The junior guard aligns his free throw shots with the nail on the charity stripe, and then moves four boards to the right before releasing his almost automatic shot. Haws is one of the best free throw shooters in BYU history, so who can argue with the result? Haws also admits to tying and untying his shoes “seven or eight times” before each game to make sure it doesn’t happen during a game.

 

4. Mark Pope has championship ring

Mark Pope (Photo courtesy BYU Photo)

Assistant coach Mark Pope already has a championship ring. (Photo courtesy BYU Photo)

The Cougars already have a player with a championship ring sitting on their bench. Assistant coach Mark Pope helped the University of Kentucky Wildcats win their sixth national championship in 1996, as they defeated Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament final. The Indiana Pacers later drafted Pope in the second round of the NBA Draft, and he spent nine seasons in the NBA for three different teams.

 

5. Family legacies are common

BYU’s past (Marty, right), present (Tyler, left) and future (T.J., middle) are all represented on the Haws family backyard basketball court in Alpine. (Photo by Leah Aldous/Utah Valley Magazine)

BYU’s past (Marty, right), present (Tyler, left) and future (T.J., middle) are all represented on the Haws family backyard basketball court in Alpine. (Photo by Leah Aldous/Utah Valley Magazine)

BYU has a history of basketball families making their way through the Cougar ranks. Cooper Ainge, the son of legendary Cougar and current Boston Celtics executive Danny Ainge, is serving his mission in Chile and will rejoin the team upon his return for the 2016 season.  Tyler Haws’s father Marty played for the Cougars from 1986-90, while little brother T.J. has also committed to Provo. BYU recruits Nick Emery and Jake Toolson are also relatives of former players Jackson Emery (2008-11) and Andy Toolson (1987-90).

 

6. Dreams continue past Provo

Jimmer Fredette was (Photo by Mark D. Smith/USA Today Sports)

Jimmer Fredette was drafted by the Sacramento Kings after his senior year at BYU. (Photo by Mark D. Smith/USA Today Sports)

Two former Cougar basketball players are currently continuing their dreams of basketball success in the NBA. Former BYU sensation Jimmer Fredette, who was the 10th overall draft pick in 2011, is a rotation player for the Sacramento Kings, where he shoots 39.5 percent from three-point range in an average of 15.3 minutes per game. Joining him in the NBA is Brandon Davies, an undrafted free agent, who is seeing playing time for the Philadelphia 76ers, averaging 2.5 points in 11.6 minutes per game. Also, Jordan Cameron, the all-star tight end of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, redshirted for BYU basketball during the 2006-07 season, but decided to transfer to USC to play football, and was subsequently drafted by the Browns in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

 

7. All-American already on roster

Junior Skyler Halford earned all-American honors at Salt Lake Community College. (Photo by Rebecca Lane)

Junior Skyler Halford earned all-American honors at Salt Lake Community College. (Photo by Rebecca Lane)

Junior guard Skyler Halford already has quite a basketball career under his belt. He led Salt Lake Community College to a 51–14 overall record during his two years there, and was named a first-team junior college all-American. Halford averaged 17.4 points per game while shooting 39.3 percent from beyond the arc. BYU fans shouldn’t be surprised by his ability to get hot on the court.

 

8. Three freshmen are two-sport athletes

Freshman Frank Bartley also played football outside of basketball in high school. (Photo by Rebecca Lane)

Freshman Frank Bartley also played football outside of basketball in high school. (Photo by Rebecca Lane)

While basketball is their first choice of sports, three BYU freshmen also excelled on the gridiron. Frank Bartley played wide receiver at his high school in Louisiana, where he racked up more than 800 yards receiving. Andrew Johnston played defensive back at Snow Canyon High, intercepting four passes during his senior year. Luke Worthington received all-state and all-region honors en route to leading his Wisconsin high school football team to a state championship last season.

 

9. Players are multi-lingual

Sophomore Kyle Collinsworth knows Russian after serving a two year LDS mission in Russia. (Photo by Rebecca Lane)

Sophomore Kyle Collinsworth knows Russian after serving a two year LDS mission in Russia. (Photo by Rebecca Lane)

The BYU Cougars 2014 roster and staff have combined to serve missions in five countries and five different states. The team members speak five different languages including English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Tagalog.

 

10. Lone Peak connection is alive and well

Eric Mika is one of four players on the BYU roster that went to Lone Peak High School in Alpine. (Photo by Rebecca Lane)

Eric Mika is one of four players on the BYU roster that went to Lone Peak High School in Alpine. (Photo by Rebecca Lane)

Four current BYU Cougars played their high school basketball for Lone Peak High School in Alpine under head coach Quincy Lewis. These include Tyler Haws, Nate Austin, Josh Sharp and Eric Mika. All four players have started at least one game this season for BYU and others are not far behind. T.J. Haws, Nick Emery and Austin Toolson all have committed to play for the Cougars in the future, giving the school 30 minutes north of Provo the moniker of “BYU Farming Grounds.”

 

11. Tallest Player in BYU history is Bradley

Sean Bradley(Photo courtesy BYU Photo)

Shawn Bradley is the tallest basketball player BYU has ever had at 7-feet-6-inches tall. (Photo courtesy BYU Photo)

Shawn Bradley, who stood at a gigantic 7-feet-6-inches tall, is the tallest player ever at BYU. The center only played for the Cougars during the 1990-91 season, where he led the nation in blocks per game at 5.2, while contributing 14.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per contest. Bradley was drafted first overall in the 1993 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. He also played for the New Jersey Nets and the Dallas Mavericks during his 12-year NBA career.

 

12. Venue changed in 1971

Before the Cougars had the Marriott Center to play in, they played in the Smith Fieldhouse. (Photo courtesy BYU Photo)

Before the Cougars had the Marriott Center to play in, they played in the Smith Fieldhouse. (Photo courtesy BYU Photo)

The Cougars didn’t always play in the enormous Marriott Center. They played for ten years in the much smaller Smith Fieldhouse from 1961-71. The Marriott Center opened in 1971, giving BYU one of the most intimidating sports venues in the country. The Marriott Center holds 20,900 at its capacity, making it the sixth largest NCAA basketball arena.

 

13. Phi Slamma Jamma

BYU basketball coach Dave Rose has established a legacy for himself at BYU with his dedication to the team and work with Coaches vs. Cancer. (Photo by BYU Photo)

BYU basketball coach Dave Rose has established a legacy for himself at BYU, but before BYU, he was leading fast-paced basketball teams as a team captain. (Photo by BYU Photo)

The nickname of the University of Houston’s 1982-84 basketball teams is well known for featuring the talents of future NBA hall-of-famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, and using throw-down dunks and a fast style of play. Much less known to fans is current BYU head coach Dave Rose captained the team through those years and has adopted the fast pace the Houston Cougars used to the current fast pace the BYU Cougars now employ.

 

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6 Responses to "13 BYU basketball facts you probably never knew"

  1. yclops says:

    I think you mean Jake Toolson, not Austin Toolson. Not only is he a relative of Andy Toolson (2nd cousin), but also Danny Ainge (uncle). However, he does not play for Lone Peak HS in Highland, UT, but rather Highland HS in Gilbert, AZ (where Matt Carlino played). He has a brother named Connor Toolson who played for Highland, but also a 2nd cousin once removed named Connor Toolson who played for Lone Peak HS, but did not commit to BYU. However, there is another Lone Peak BYU commit named Frank Jackson, who is unrelated to the Toolson-Ainge clan.

    Clear?

    • admin admin says:

      Thank you for pointing that out. We checked the recruits again and changed it to Jake Toolson. Plus, we added a link to incoming recruits list from another story.

  2. steve says:

    not to mention the other incoming family recruits of chapman and nixon

  3. Ryan says:

    Great article. Just a couple of omissions.

    BYU moved into the Smith Field House for the 1951-52 season. It had a capacity of 10,000, which made it the largest college arena in the Western U.S. at the time. It was anything but small.

    You missed a couple of the biggest (but much older) family connections at BYU. Elwood Romney was the first All-American at BYU in 1931 and 1932. His son Jerry Romney was a 3 year starter at BYU from 1950-52, and was a key part of the 1951 NIT National Champion team.

    Also, Bob Craig, who was the 6th man on the 1951 team, and his son Steve was a starter on the 1981 Elite 9 team. Also on the 1981 Elite 8 team was Craig Christensen, the son of Harold Christensen, a 3 year starter at BYU from 1951 to 1953.

  4. Web says:

    The Smith fieldhouse opened up in 1951 or thereabouts. It was already in use 62 years ago when I was 14.

  5. Tyler says:

    What about family connections of Jeff Chapman and Jordan Chapman? Jordan returns from his mission next month and will ready to go for the fall 2014!

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