The next day we had our first individual workout. Training with the guards, we played in the Fieldhouse right next to the gym since the actual gym was being used. For a half hour, we did different drills and I got tired pretty quickly. I was in decent shape but for the month leading up to September, I didn’t work out that hard since I knew we would be put through intense workouts with the team. My mindset was that I didn’t want to be burnt out by the time I got up there.
Once we finished the drills, we played full court three on three. At this point, I was exhausted, and it showed. This was my first practice with the team and I was sucking wind. The coaches and players could see it, and were probably wondering how I got a scholarship to play up there if I was that bad. I was playing so bad that on one play, I passed the ball directly to the other team.
On defense one play, the player I was guarding stood in front of my teammate so the guy with the ball could get an easier shot. I screamed out, “Screen!”
The assistant coach immediately chimed in, “Tyson, yelling ‘Screen’ is only half the battle. You have to tell him what you want him to do, whether it’s to go under, over, or switch!” (Editor’s note: To this day, every time I play basketball I remember this scenario whenever my guy sets a screen on a defender, and it brings me back to this first practice.)
On offense, I couldn’t get to the hoop easily since the guy guarding me was a lot stronger. The coaches probably noticed this and I felt my chances of getting any playing time during the year slip away moment by moment. Finally, the other team won. The coaches then told us to shoot a few free throws to cool down. I shot mine quickly then ran off into the empty locker room.
I realized that this was, for me, a major wake-up to Division 1 athletics.