Sara Hamson, a member of possibly the world’s tallest family, may have been the only Pleasant Grove High School student unimpressed by Matt Van Komen’s height.
A year after the Vikings’ girls and boys basketball teams featured centers measuring a combined 13 feet, 10 inches, Hamson and Van Komen are occupying their own spaces this season. The 6-7 Hamson starts for BYU, already having contributed to the Cougars’ Sweet 16 volleyball team and broken her mother’s freshman record for blocked shots in a basketball season. The 7-3½ Van Komen anchors the Vikings’ No. 2-ranked team, preparing for next week’s Class 6A state tournament, and holds scholarship offers from Utah and Gonzaga, among other schools.
There’s some built-in attraction in following their stories. Hamson is a daughter of a legendary BYU athlete and a sister of two 7-footers and an WNBA player. Van Komen has emerged as the state’s tallest prospect since Shawn Bradley in the late 1980s, making his development fascinating to watch.
These two are doing big things on the court, with the promise of more to come.
Van Komen, a junior, has “just been on this treadmill, this little climb, consistently for 2½ seasons,” said Pleasant Grove coach Randy McAllister. “It’s week-to-week improvement for him, it really is.”
Expectations are demanding for anyone who grows to 7 feet or beyond. Van Komen’s grade-school teachers figured he should act older and be smarter, because he was so much bigger than his classmates. The same unfair theory applies to basketball: If he’s taller than the Jazz’s Rudy Gobert, shouldn’t he be more dominant?
Van Komen averages about 17 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots. Now weighing 220 pounds, he’s considerably stronger and better conditioned than last season, needing only a short break in each half of a 32-minute high-school game.
“It’s night-and-day difference,” said his father, Troy. “He’s stronger, more confident and learning to be a leader.”
Van Komen’s recruitment has been “a little bit overwhelming,” his father said. “It’s hard to tell who’s really interested and who’s just sending out stuff to everybody.”
Van Komen said, “It’s been fun. If it gets too much, I just kind of ignore it for a while.”
In Hamson’s case, comparisons to her mother, her sister and Van Komen are inescapable and mostly favorable. Former BYU player Kevin Nixon is a Pleasant Grove girls assistant coach (helping his wife, Stephanie) and has coached Van Komen in AAU summer basketball. Hamson and Van Komen “both move incredibly well for players their size. … It’s uncanny, really,” Nixon said. “Both have amazing timing on blocking shots.”
That’s exactly what BYU coach Jeff Judkins says about Hamson and her sister, Jennifer, a former BYU star who has played in the WNBA and spent this winter with teams in Australia and Sweden: “They really do have a knack for blocking shots.”
BYU SINGLE-GAME BLOCKS LEADERS:
11 • Tresa Spaulding Hamson.
10 • Tresa Spaulding Hamson (four times). 9 • Jennifer Hamson (three times), Sara Hamson.
Utah discovered Hamson’s skill during a memorable weekend in early December. She appeared briefly in BYU’s five-game loss at Kentucky in the NCAA volleyball tournament, then hustled home and played basketball the next afternoon, blocking nine shots in the Cougars’ win over the Utes. Her explanation: “Sometimes, teams don’t learn.”
That’s the closest either Hamson or Van Komen came to saying anything provocative or self-promoting in recent interviews, although Van Komen happily recounted his dunk over American Fork’s Isaac Johnson, his Exum Elite AAU teammate and another highly recruited player. The Hamson family’s style is low-profile, not easy to maintain when both parents and two daughters stand 6-7 and the boys are 7-2 or taller (injuries ended Alan’s BYU basketball career; Timothy has pursued music). Youngest child Heather, a ninth-grader, is projected to reach 6-1. As Sara joked, “So small, right?”
Their mother, Tresa Spaulding Hamson, once scored 50 points in a BYU game and is in the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame as the program’s all-time No. 2 rebounder and No. 3 scorer. Jennifer is the No. 3 rebounder and No. 10 scorer. Sara broke the family record with 20 rebounds in a double-overtime loss at San Francisco this month (Jennifer twice posted 19). She’ll never become as big a scorer as her mother, but Sara should challenge BYU’s career record for blocked shots.
BYU SEASON BLOCKS LEADERS
147 • Jennifer Hamson, 2013-14.
144 • Tresa Spaulding Hamson, 1984-85.
143 • Tresa Spaulding Hamson, 1986-87.
114 •Tresa Spaulding Hamson, 1985-86.
99 • Sara Hamson, 2017-18.
93 • Tresa Spaulding Hamson, 1983-84.
Her mother once rejected a friend’s suggestion that the Hamsons pursue Guinness World Records recognition as the world’s tallest family. Even so, she said, she always encouraged her children to “embrace who you are.”
So the Hamsons responded good-naturedly when their appearance in Times Square turned into a major photo opportunity for other tourists. “We try to be as nice as possible,” Tresa Hamson once said. “For everyone else, it’s such a big deal.”
That’s life on the court for Sara Hamson and Matt Van Komen. They’re big, and they’re driven to become even bigger.