BYU Basketball alumni in the pros
Polish professional basketball club Trefl Sopot announced it had signed former BYU guard and recent graduate TJ Haws on July 22, making him the first member of the 2020 class to sign a pro contract.
With the NBA starting back up and basketball back in the spotlight, The Daily Universe is taking a look at Haws and the other BYU alumni playing at the next level around the world.
TJ Haws – Trefl Sopot (Poland)
Haws is the most recent Cougar to join the professional ranks, signing a contract in Poland just four months after his senior season ended early due to COVID-19. Prior to the shutdown, Haws was the starting point guard and an integral part of a BYU team that seemed destined for a deep NCAA tournament run.
Haws holds the record for most consecutive starts at BYU, having started every game in his four-year Cougar career. He averaged 14 points and six assists in his final season, and his crafty playmaking and accurate shooting are sure to be a natural fit for the pass-heavy, 3-point-shooting European style. Haws’ brother, Tyler, also played in Poland following his BYU career.
Eric Mika – Stockton Kings (NBA G-League)
Eric Mika, Haws’ teammate at Lone Peak High School in Alpine and for a year at BYU, is the most recent Cougar to have played minutes in the NBA. Though officially a member of the G-League’s Stockton Kings, Mika was called up to the senior Sacramento Kings squad for a game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 1. He posted six points and seven rebounds against the Western Conference leaders.
Mika left BYU after his sophomore year in 2017 with hopes of getting drafted into the NBA, but like Haws and other BYU alumni, Mika’s journey took him to Europe, initially signing with a club in Pesaro, Italy, out of college. After playing in Italy during 2017-2018, Mika signed with Medi Bayreuth in Germany in January 2019. He then played in the NBA Summer League last summer where he impressed the Kings enough to sign a G-League contract. He also had a brief stint with the Chinese club Xinjiang Flying Tigers in December 2019 before returning to the Kings.
Elijah Bryant – Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
Like Mika, Elijah Bryant left BYU early as a junior in 2018 to pursue his professional dreams. Bryant has played both of his post-BYU seasons in Israel, first at Hapoel Eilat and then Maccabi Tel Aviv, where he is currently playing in a “bubble” environment similar to the NBA in Orlando. He also played with the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks Summer League teams between seasons in Israel.
Bryant averaged 9.5 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.5 steals in 23.5 minutes with Maccabi Tel Aviv this season before suffering an injury. He is joined on the roster by former NBA players Amar’e Stoudemire, Omri Casspi, and Tyler Dorsey, as well as Israeli-Serbian up-and-comer Deni Avdija, a projected top-five pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Kyle Collinsworth – Salt Lake City Stars (NBA G-League)
Kyle Collinsworth last played for the Cougars in 2016 when he set the record for most triple-doubles by an NCAA player in a season and a career. Unlike the previously mentioned players, Collinsworth has remained stateside for the entirety of his professional career.
The majority of his time has been spent in the NBA G-League, with the Texas Legends from 2016-2018, the Raptors 905 last season and the Salt Lake City Stars this season. He did sign a two-way contract with the Dallas Mavericks of the NBA in 2017 and was signed full-time to the squad for the latter half of the 2017-2018 season, playing in 32 games and starting in two.
He has found some success with the Stars recently, including a 16 point, 15 rebound, seven assists performance on January 18.
Brandon Davies – FC Barcelona (Spain)
Brandon Davies found initial success in the NBA before looking internationally for his next opportunities. Davies was signed by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2013 and played a full season with them, including scoring 20 points in one game, before getting traded to the Brooklyn Nets and then waiving.
He bounced around a few European teams before finding a promising role and team at Zalgiris Kaunas in Lithuania. He led the team to deep runs in the EuroLeague, a tournament between the major club teams in Europe in 2018 and 2019. He was named to the All-EuroLeague First Team in 2019.
In July 2019, Davies signed a two-year deal with FC Barcelona in Spain, one of the most successful and high-profile basketball teams outside of the U.S. The roster includes former NBA players Nikola Mirotic and Alex Abrines. In his second game with Barcelona, Davies recorded 24 points and 11 rebounds.
Jimmer Fredette – Panathinaikos (Greece)
Our final player needs little introduction. Jimmer Fredette was the consensus National Player of the Year at BYU in 2011 and was taken 10th overall in the NBA draft. He played in the NBA for four years with the Sacramento Kings, Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Pelicans and New York Knicks before moving to China in 2016 to play for the Shanghai Sharks.
Fredette was an All-Star all three years he was in China, lighting up defenses with his shooting and scoring over 40 points on a regular basis. He was also named the Chinese Basketball Association International MVP in 2017.
After a brief return to the NBA with the Phoenix Suns in 2019, Fredette signed with Panathinaikos in July 2019 and led the team to the Greek Championship in May 2020. It has been reported by EuroHoops.net that Fredette will not return to Greece next season and will instead look for a new team as a free agent.