Men’s Basketball | November 20, 2022
“I promised my mom a beach house and a purple jeep,” Jaylon Tyson says. “It’s going to happen.”
ETCHED IN THE STONE above the southwest entrance to the United Supermarkets Arena it reads, “Experience tells you what to do. Confidence allows you to do it.”
On the court inside, Tyson is a living example of that quote. He’s young, but talented. Confident, but inexperienced. It’s complicated at this point in his career. “I see myself as someone with the potential to be an NBA All-Star,” Tyson says. “I truly believe that and know that it will take a lot of work to get there.” A sophomore guard, Tyson has played only 11 games – three this season as a starter at Texas Tech after eight as a freshman reserve at the University of Texas. He scored the first basket of the season for Tech, a 3-pointer just 64 seconds into the 24-point win over Northwestern State. He finished with eight points. Three days later, he scored a career-high 13 points against Texas Southern. His first basket in the third game against Louisiana Tech gave Texas Tech a 2-0 lead, his next two, a 3-pointer and then a layup had the Red Raiders leading 14-2 and him with seven points. He would finish with those seven points, not scoring in the second half.
“I’m a young player who is trying to understand and grow every day,” Tyson says. “I don’t have all this figured out.”
Finding consistency, continuing to build confidence, experience and talent now becomes the goal. Experience guides you. Confidence carries.
“He just needs to keep believing, keep working,” Tech senior Kevin Obanor says. “The sky is the limit for him.”
“Everything with JT starts with his work ethic,” Texas Tech head coach Mark Adams says. “He’s a guy who is always working to get better. We’re still seeing growth in him every day. His skillset is almost unlimited and he’s going to be able to score at three levels. We believe in him.”
A 6-foot-7 guard from Plano, Texas, Tyson enters the Maui Jim Maui Invitational averaging 9.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game this season. “I’m not where I should be at yet,” Tyson says. “I want to be one of the best players to have put on a Texas Tech jersey, that’s the end goal. That doesn’t happen right now though. It’s about dedicating yourself every day. Every game. I’m only three games into this but believe that I’m on my way.” His 13 points against Texas Southern came on 6-for-11 shooting without a 3-pointer, while his eight against Northwestern State saw him go 2-for-3 from beyond the arc. He’s currently shooting 12-for-22 (54.5 percent) and 37.5 percent on 3-pointers as he continues the progression of returning to competition after not playing the second half of last season.
“It was great to see him out there,” Adams said in his postgame press conference after the season opener. “He practiced last spring with us and we saw a lot of great things about him. He’s got huge upside, a high ceiling. He’s going to be a guy that’s going to get a lot better. We think he’s a guy that can help us win some games.”
THE FIRST STORY WE WROTE about Tyson was posted to TexasTech.com on November 11, 2020. Just beginning his senior year at John Paul II High School at that time, he was listed by ESPN as a 4-star and the seventh-best recruit in the state of Texas. Rivals had him as the No. 34-ranked player in the nation. He was coming off a junior season where his team had won a state championship and he earned all-state after averaging 24.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Offers had come from Creighton, Arkansas, Memphis, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Houston but Tyson knew where he wanted to go. “The day I got offered by Texas Tech was also a day that I’ll never forget because of this game,” Tyson says. “We were playing Allen. I had got cut from their team. I was now playing at John Paul and we went to play in the Allen Tournament. Tech coaches were in the stands and I had a really good game. Scored 40. I was offered that night. That was life changing. The game was incredible for a lot of reasons. I’ll never forget that day.”
As a senior, Tyson once again earned all-state, district MVP honors and led his team to a 26-2 record and the state semifinals. He averaged 22.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.1 steals per game that season as a Tech signee. “My first visit out here was for the Kansas game,” Tyson says. “It was unreal. Never had seen anything like it. It was the very first college basketball game that I had ever been to. I was sold right away. The fans were showing me so much love. They showed love to my family. That was really important to me.” He was committed to Tech the entire year and was constantly engaging on social media with the team and fanbase. He loved it. Tech loved him back. It was set. There was no wavering or thoughts of anything else. Until… well, until everything changed. April 1, 2021 for anyone reading this probably doesn’t need a retelling. Everyone has their own opinions and were affected in their own way. Tyson was at home that day as confused as anyone. He was in high school and was positive that coming to Tech the next year was his path.
“It was the hardest decision of my life,” Tyson says. “Coach Beard called me and told me he was going to Texas. He asked me if I was coming with him. My parents and me just sat there in a room in silence. I remember praying and not knowing what I should do. I cried. I wanted to be loyal to everyone. I wanted to come to Tech. But I also wanted to be loyal to the coaching staff that had recruited me. There were all kinds of emotions.”
It’s nearly impossible to put yourself in that position. At that age. With that potential. People building you up, making you believe in yourself more than you ever have before. A lot of people would have their opinions, but realistically, no one knew exactly what he was going through.
The first story posted to TexasSports.com about Tyson was on April 14, 2021. The first line of the story, the lede, read, “Jaylon Tyson has signed an Athletic Scholarship Agreement (ASA) to play basketball next season at The University of Texas.” Tyson would play in eight games as a freshman at Texas after backing out of his letter of intent with the Red Raiders. He scored a season-high 11 points in a season-opening win over Houston Christian where he was 5-for-5 from the field in his first collegiate game. Not bad for a freshman playing at that level. He would go scoreless though in the next five though, score three against Arkansas-Pine Bluff and then again didn’t score against Alabama State in only one minute one the court.
Tyson would then do the unheard of, deciding to transfer midyear, entering the transfer portal on Dec. 27, 2021 to reopen his recruitment and ultimately sign with Texas Tech for the second time.
“It was the right move,” Tyson says. “Not the best timing and not everyone thought it was the best decision. It’s what I had to do. I saw the bigger picture and what it could do for me. I was able to come in here get used to the program and culture.”
THE SECOND STORY WE WROTE about Tyson was posted on January 10, 2022. It was somewhat surreal for everyone. Something that had never happened before with a Longhorn becoming a Red Raider in the middle of the season. If it has ever happened at any point in a year, it’s been scrubbed from everyone’s memory. Tyson wasn’t worried about that. He felt this was the best decision for himself. For his future. He wasn’t going to play, but he could practice. Could learn. That’s what he wanted he wanted to do. In the Austin American-Statesman story about him signing with the Red Raiders for the second time, the lede read, “Former Texas guard Jaylon Tyson is going back to where he wanted to go all along.”
“I got to see the best of both worlds last year as a freshman,” Tyson says. “We were a really talented team at Texas and here at Tech we were a really connected team with veteran players. I learned from both. Going to March Madness and the Big 12 Championship was a great experience. I didn’t play but I watched how everyone prepared. How they got their bodies and minds right for the game. At Texas, Courtney Ramey and Andrew Jones taught me about leadership and caring about people. They have fought through a lot of adversity and inspired me. At Tech, Bryson, Adonis and Davion showed me leadership and work ethic. I learned a lot at both places.”
While at Texas Tech last season, Tyson primarily ran scout team and worked on his game. While he did that, the Red Raiders went on another tear to continue building on the program’s recent success. Adams led the team to an 18-0 record at home, a mark that was only matched by Kentucky. Tech swept both Baylor and Texas for the first time since the 1995-96 season and they would reach the Big 12 Championship final before advancing to the Sweet 16. Tyson wanted to be on the court playing, but he could also appreciate what he was gaining from the experience. It humbled him some. Built him up some. He learned from seniors who had gone through similar decisions as he did. Arms had been to three schools before Tech. Williams to two. Warren to three also.
“Everybody has a journey that includes adversity,” Tyson says. “At first, I thought it was just me that was going through stuff. Seems selfish now, but I really thought that. I thought that everyone else was perfect. That I was the only one going through struggles. That’s part of growing up and understanding the world more. Our team last season was full of guys that had gone through so much to get to where they got. They were great leaders. From top to bottom. Each adversity has hit different and made me who I am today. Adversity got me to where I’m at today. I went through things I have for a reason. I really do feel like I’m stronger because of everything. My family is stronger. I have mentors who have helped me through things. I’ve learned to lean on people and trust people more. I’m still a work in progress, but I’m growing.”
TYSON TAKES THOSE lessons he learned last year – the good and the bad – and brought them into the offseason. “Sitting on the bench for that long, I got to learn different aspects of the game,” he says. “Not just going out there and playing. But, also, supporting my teammates.” He was motivated by everything. Fueled by doubt. Inspired by others. Motivated. At the team retreat he said his purpose for the team was to love and serve. On the court and off it.
“He’s got a huge heart,” Tech assistant Corey Williams says. “We took a photo together the other day and he texted it to me. Said he loved me and appreciated me working with him. He’s working.”
“Jaylon fought through quite a few challenges from leaving a coach he believed in and the friends he made in Austin to having to watch from the bench his new basketball family make an amazing run to the Sweet 16,” his mom, Sandra Brown says. “He fought through the adversity by looking towards this season. He stayed focused on the goal of becoming a better player in all aspects of the game. During the summer I had to beg him to come home but he just wanted to get ready for the season. I have to fight back happy tears every time I see him run out of the tunnel now.”
Etching his name in stone is a goal that Tyson has. He said it. He believes it. He wants to be one of the best ever. A Tech legend. Help continue the legacy of a program that has reached Sweet 16s in three of the past four years and played for a national championship three years ago.
“Everything I’m doing right now is about winning,” Tyson says. “My defense is getting a lot better. I saw that last year. If you want to play and help win, you need to play great defense. I have active hands and have been working to get into the passing lane to steal balls. That’s changed a lot. My game never had that before. I was a scorer. I want to be one our best defenders every game. I wouldn’t have cared about that part of the game a year ago. I take pride in it now. It’s improving week by week. I want to be a complete player for this team.”
Tyson is set to play the 12th game of his college career on Monday in Maui. He’ll be in the starting lineup for the fourth time and will go up against No. 10 Creighton on ESPN 2. It’s the stage he’s dreamed of since he was playing for the Panther Pack as a youth in the Plano Sports Association.
“At a certain level, I don’t know anything right now,” Tyson says. “I just have keep learning. From my mistakes to when things go good. Keep learning and growing. I have to keep learning and growing.”
Life isn’t always easy. Sometimes doubt creeps in. People stop believing. You need to find things to motivate you even more.
Beach house. Purple jeep.