PROVO — For former BYU guard TJ Haws, the next chapter of his basketball career will be written about 5,000 miles away in the central European nation of Poland. 

Haws recently signed with Trefl Sopot, a professional team based in Sopot, Poland, that plays in the Polish Tauron Basket Liga.

“It’s an exciting time. I’m looking forward to it,” Haws said. “I’ve had a few different options and a few different things put in front of me over the past few months. Ultimately, I feel like this is going to be a great opportunity for me to start my career.

“Speaking with the coach there, I’m going to have an opportunity to play and show what I can do. That’s really all I can ask for. Hopefully, I get over there and I can show who I am and what I’m capable of doing and help our team win games.”

“Speaking with the coach there, I’m going to have an opportunity to play and show what I can do. That’s really all I can ask for.” — TJ Haws

Haws will leave for Poland around the end of July. His wife, Lauren, and their young son, Tyson, will join him there in the coming weeks. 

Trefl Sopot has already started practicing and its first game of the season is scheduled for Aug. 27.

“They’ve told me things are going really well there,” Haws said of team officials. “They’re not as concerned as they are here (about the pandemic). When I talked to the coach, he said, ‘It’s not like America. We’re doing really well.’ It’s going to be interesting to see how it all plays out.”

Haws’ older brother, Tyler, played professionally in Poland for Anwil Wloclawek in 2016.

“Both Tyler and his wife really enjoyed Poland. When they had a few days off, they would travel to the city that I’m going to be playing in,” TJ said. “They liked the food and the people. Poland was good to them. Tyler actually played against my coach. One of the guys on our team played with Tyler. So there are a few connections already. I’m excited to get out there and get going with this thing.”

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Haws started a school-record 133 consecutive games during his four seasons as a Cougar. A two-time All-West Coast Conference selection, Haws helped lead BYU to a 24-8 record and a No. 18 national ranking last season as a senior. He finished his Cougars career ranked in the top 10 in scoring, assists, steals, 3-point field goals and free-throw percentage. 

Haws etched his name in Cougars basketball lore with three memorable game-winning plays last season. 

He hit a jumper at the buzzer to propel BYU to a victory at Houston last November. In February, he drilled a 3-pointer with nine seconds remaining to defeat Saint Mary’s at the Marriott Center, hours before the birth of his son. Then, a few weeks later, Haws’ alley-oop pass to Yoeli Childs with 11.1 seconds remaining lifted the Cougars to a 72-71 victory at San Diego. 

BYU guard TJ Haws looks to score during game against Santa Clara Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Haws’ senior season was cut short when the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament. It’s something that still gnaws at him a bit.

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“I don’t know if I’ll ever truly be able to swallow that one. It was being at practice one day and the next day everything was canceled,” Haws said. “School went online and everyone went home. We didn’t have that final moment together as a team or closure. It’s kind of hard to not be able to know what we could have done.

“We were clicking so well. To have it end like that was truly heartbreaking. That was one of my favorite seasons of basketball I’ve ever played in. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m so grateful for the season that we had and the ups and downs and the wonderful experiences we had. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to swallow how that went down.”

After the season ended, Haws began talking to a few pro agents and he was able to work out with Collin Terry, a former walk-on for legendary Utah coach Rick Majerus. Terry is an NBA and college skills development coach.

“He’s been fantastic throughout this whole process. We fortunately found a gym and I’ve been able to work out with him a lot since all this has happened,” Haws said. “He’s helped me to stay in shape and helped me prepare if there were going to be NBA workouts. He’s really put me in a good position right now to make me feel like I’m ready to go now that this contract is signed. It’s nice to have some direction. It seems like everything’s been so crazy so it’s nice to have something in place.”

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