Here's how this hoops star went from 5-foot-6 and 'goofy' to a 6-foot-9 Division I commit
Tommy Haugh admitted he was a bit of a driving sports fan growing up.
How else does an Adams County kid become a Florida Gators fan?
A basketball star-to-be, Haugh was a bigger fan of college football growing up. And like many across the country, he was fascinated by the powerful, all-American force who played quarterback for the Gators.
"I loved Tim Tebow," he said. "It's kind of random, isn't it? I guess you could call it a driving thing, but that was a big influence on me.”
More than a decade later, Haugh has earned the opportunity to play for what he called his "dream school."
Haugh, a former New Oxford High School player who now plays for Montgomery County's Perkiomen School, verbally committed to playing basketball for Florida last week. Although originally part of the Class of 2022, Haugh will spend an additional year in prep school before enrolling with the SEC powerhouse in 2023.
Tommy Haugh (10) dives with authority during the PIAA 5A Boys' Basketball Playoff game between New Oxford and Thomas Jefferson at Dallastown Area High School on March 6, 2020. The Colonials defeated the Jaguars 70-48.
Florida missed out on the NCAA tournament last season with a 20-14 record, but the Gators have made nine tournament appearances, three Elite Eight trips and a Final Four since winning back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007.
On one hand, it's not surprising that Haugh gets such an impressive opportunity. Standing at 6ft 9 and the ability to shoot from the outside, Haugh has the height, length and skill that college coaches like to see in forwards. He has received more than 20 Division I offers since the summer of 2020.
Still, his recruitment didn't always seem destined to explode like it did this spring. After receiving a string of mid-major offers in 2021, Haugh received scholarship opportunities from Big Ten schools (Maryland, Northwestern, Illinois) and ACC programs (Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech) after a strong season this winter.
It culminated in late June with an offer and official visit to the school he had always wanted to hear about. Former University of San Francisco coach Todd Golden was hired in Florida in March, adding one of his old assistants, Richmond resident Kevin Hovde, to his staff. Haugh had already been recruited by Hovde in Richmond.
"When I was there, I just knew it," Haugh said. "I really wanted to eliminate the prejudice I had about them and just compare them to other schools, but everything was great. I enjoyed the staff and was able to train with the team. I knew this was where I wanted to be.”
Haugh has reached a level unmatched by anyone from his original high school — and not many from York and Adams counties. New Oxford has sent a few women basketball players like Carrie Timmins (1999, Delaware) and Courtney Davidson (2000, Navy) to smaller NCAA Division I teams, but none of its boy players have made it to that level. The program's all-time top scorer, John Harner, played for East Stroudsburg in the 1960s.
Of course, Haugh has taken a different path — though he's similar to many high-ranking recruits — by leaving his hometown for a different kind of high school experience. But Haugh's journey from Adams County to prep school in suburban Philadelphia to the SEC goes even deeper.
His development from childhood through his teenage years is not only the result of steady growth spurts, but also a burning dedication to his craft.
"It's surreal," he said of his journey to Florida. “It shows that hard work can pay off. You have to be diligent. When I was training with Florida, I saw the speed of their game. I went from high school speed to prep school speed and now college speed. will be another step."
From a 5 foot 6 goofball to a 6 foot 9 star
Abdul Janneh (left) and Tommy Haugh celebrate the Colonials' 69-41 win over Hanover in a quarterfinal game of the YAIAA Tournament on Friday, February 7, 2020.
Haugh always had an athlete's pedigree.
Both parents played college sports at Shippensburg. His mother was a midfielder on the volleyball team and his father was a linebacker on the football team. His maternal grandfather, Mike Fuhrman, is a South Western High School graduate who played tight end for the University of Memphis and was drafted by the Baltimore Colts. Fuhrman is also 6ft 6 - which explains his grandson's height (both of Haugh's parents are around 6ft).
But while Haugh was always good at sports, he wasn't viewed as a future basketball star. He played quarterback in youth soccer and also loved volleyball. At basketball, he was a promising guard, taller than the average sixth grader at five feet, but yet to develop athletically.
At the time, he was a role player on an AAU team that featured Glen Rock's Jarace Walker — now the No. 1 high school forward in the country going to the University of Houston.
"He's always been a good height and length, but I don't think we saw 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot wingspan coming," said former New Oxford head coach Sean Bair, the fifth-grade Haugh met. “He was a good athlete but a bit physically awkward and super lanky. He kept growing and his body had to catch up. He had these massive feet that were always kicking around. But I think it helped that he used to be smaller so he had the foundation for good guarding skills.
"But he was always in the gym and his parents were keen to give him every opportunity. He could be silly but there was always a seriousness in his demeanor.”
More on Haugh: The 6-foot-8 New Oxford basketball star deserves the first Division I offer
New Oxford head coach Sean Bair speaks to his team before a playoff game against Eastern York in 2019. Tommy Haugh (far right) was a freshman and bencher for New Oxford at the time.
When he was in eighth grade, Haugh was 6-foot-3. By the end of his sophomore year, he was nearly 6ft 8 and averaging eight points and seven rebounds for a New Oxford team that went 26-5 and made the state quarterfinals before the coronavirus pandemic ended the season. Able to hit 3-pointers, block shots and throw dunks, Haugh scored 14 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in a state playoff win over York Suburban.
It was his last game for the Colonials. About a month after receiving his first college offer from Mount St. Mary's in July 2020. Haugh decided to transfer to Perkiomen - a boarding school that includes players from New York, Maryland and even Canada and competes against other prep schools with a promising future for college talent.
Haugh said he adjusted quickly after some early jitters. But he didn't get instant playing time as the Panthers had five future college players in the Class of 2021.
He didn't receive his second Division I (Albany) offer until June 2021 -- about a year after receiving his first. But that opened the floodgates and he had 12 mid-major offers by the end of last summer. The list included Lehigh, Lafayette, Fairfied, Boston and Holy Cross.
However, he still felt he could play at a higher level. And after averaging about 10 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots per game that season against stellar competition, he finally got the interest of Power Five schools. He also decided to reclassify to give himself another year to build and attract colleges.
“I wasn't looking for offers. I was really grateful for the offers I had," he said. “But I looked at my body and my development and I thought I could push it up a notch. My parents were a bit afraid to look at some really good courses, but I believed in myself.”
Tommy Haugh (10) aims to block Noah Pierce (3) during the PIAA 5A Boys' Basketball Playoff game between New Oxford and Thomas Jefferson at Dallastown Area High School on March 6, 2020. The Colonials defeated the Jaguars 70-48.
Most likely done waxing, Haugh said he's "6ft 10 with shoes" and weighs 210 pounds, having weighed 185 as a sophomore at New Oxford. National recruitment website 247Sports describes him as "an extreme competitor with a good natural feel for the game" and "extreme defensive versatility".
Haugh's next step will be to become more of a top scorer but he seems to be making progress in that area. Last month, he scored 33 points for his Under Armor-affiliated AAU team in a game in New Jersey.
Florida coaches attended this game and shortly thereafter expanded their offerings.
"We thought he was really good. Did we think he would be good in Florida? Well, anyone who says they know what someone will be concretely in three years is deluding themselves a bit," said Bair, who is now an assistant on the Monmouth women's team after serving on the Arkansas men's programs and the women of Penn State had worked. "He went from being a dedicated kid to being one of the few hundred most dedicated kids in the country. I laugh when I watch videos of the incredible things he's doing now because he was a good athlete but not outstanding. That was him committed to the physical part."
pursue his dream
New Oxford's Tommy Haugh lays down during the fourth quarter of a YAIAA Tournament Quarterfinal match against Hanover in West York on Friday February 7, 2020. The Colonials won 69-41.
While Haugh enjoyed his time at New Oxford, he has no regrets about his decision to leave the company.
It's a path taken by a number of local basketball stars like Gettysburg's Walker and Quadir Copeland (Syracuse). Former Spring Grove and Michigan star Eli Brooks could be the rare exception of a player rising straight from the YAIAA to the Power Five level, despite Central York junior Greg Guidinger already having three minor Division I offers ( Toledo, Robert Morris, Drexel).
"The speed of the game and the size of the players are just different," he said of preschool basketball. “There are guards and little forwards who are 6ft 5 tall. At YAIAA, these are the biggest boys.”
High School vs. Prep School: YAIAA Basketball Stars Walk for Different Opportunities Why is it happening and is it worth it?
Still, Haugh said he received congratulations not only from friends in New Oxford but also from opposing coaches across the YAIAA when announcing his signing. He said it reminded him of the close quarters he grew up in.
He's also getting messages from his new fanbase. He said Florida fans reacted to his signing post by comparing him to Chandler Parsons, the 6ft 9 tall former Gators sniper who played in the NBA for nine years.
It reminded Haugh of how far he's come, but how far he still has to go.
"I know the work I still have to put in," he said. "Hopefully people will see an Adams County kid do that and believe in themselves and chase their dreams."
Matt Allibone is a sports reporter for GameTimePA. He can be reached at 717-881-8221, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @bad2theallibone.
This article originally appeared on York Daily Record: Florida Basketball: New Oxford native Tommy Haugh commits
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