Former BYU basketball star Tyler Haws reflects on time in Europe

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BYU’s Tyler Haws gives a thumbs-up to fans after BYU’s 82–69 win over Portland on Feb. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens)

Tyler Haws and his wife, Summer, entered the ancient city of Santiago, overlooked by the city’s towering cathedral. The quick Spanish conversations and smell of freshly baked tapas reminded the newlyweds they were not in Utah anymore.

Haws had signed a deal with the town’s basketball team after going undrafted in the 2015 NBA draft, and the couple departed for Spain just weeks after getting married.

“(It was) kind of an extended honeymoon in a way,” Haws said. “There was definitely an adjustment period, but it was fun having your best friend with you going through those growing pains together.”

Some of those pains included daily routines that were much different than back home.

“It was an exciting adventure to go on; a lot of change that happened really fast,” Haws said. “It was a struggle sometimes going to the grocery store or restaurant, trying to figure out your new habits and new routines and way to live life.”

In a country where soccer is traditionally the top sport, Haws found himself in a town where basketball reigned supreme.

Santiago de Compostela is nestled in Spain’s northwestern corner, just 45 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean.

Legend holds that the bones of the apostle James are buried in the city’s cathedral.

“There’s a lot of history (in Santiago),” Haws said. “I loved our time there.”

Santiago’s main soccer club, SD Compostela, last played in Spain’s top division 20 years ago and dropped as low as the fifth tier during that span.

In its place, Obradoiro CAB — the team Haws played for — rose to the top division of Spanish basketball in 2011 and captured the support of the city.

“They took a lot of pride in their basketball team and came out to support every game,” Haws said. “Even if you had lost a few games in a row, people still came out and were really supportive.”

During Haws’ year with Obradoiro CAB, the team finished in 15th place with a record of 10-24.  He shot 46 percent from the field and 34 percent from beyond the arc and averaged eight points and one assist in 19 minutes per game.

“It was tough at the beginning,” Haws said. “There are a few different rules and the coaching is different and the style of play is a little bit different.”

Despite the learning curve on the court, Haws enjoyed the challenge.

“You have to learn on the fly and adjust to those things but it was fun playing against different teams and people you’ve never heard of that are amazing basketball players and are really smart, and I definitely learned a lot about myself and ways that I can get better,” Haws said.

Haws recently finished his second season overseas, playing for the Polish club Anwil Wloclawek.  He averaged nine points, two rebounds and an assist, helping his team win the Polish Basketball League championship.

“We kind of knew what to expect going into the second year, moving to a new place, meeting new people and being part of a new team and new culture,” Haws said. “So we kind of had those expectations coming in and we adjusted a lot quicker. We had another great experience in Poland and feel we made the most of it and enjoyed our time there.”

During the season, Haws had few days off with daily practices. Traveling across the country and games dominated his schedule from August until June.

When he found himself with a slightly longer break, he and his wife enjoyed the cultural opportunities Europe had to offer.

“Once you’re over in Europe, flights are generally pretty cheap, so you can hop around, and we’ve been able to see some cool things,” Haws said.

The couple visited Paris during a midseason break for Obradoiro CAB.

Later on, they visited Lyon, France, where Haws’ brother TJ was serving a mission for the LDS Church.

This past season, Haws’ sister-in-law was participating in a study abroad in London, and together they toured the city when he had several days off.

For now, the next basketball destination is up in the air for BYU’s all-time leading scorer.

Haws said his goal is to play at the highest level and improve, and whether that path is through Europe or a shot at the NBA, he will pursue it.

“There’s no wrong or right way to do it,” Haws said. “Everybody’s journey and path is different. The goal is to play at the highest level and if you can play, people are going to notice.”

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