2006 Focus: A.J. Tyler

The neat thing about spring AAU basketball is that it allows us to see who has developed into a player over the last year. For guys like A.J. Tyler who don't have big national reputations, the spring is invaluable but to get there you need a big season like the one Tyler is stringing together.

Don't be surprised to hear the name A.J. Tyler a lot this spring. Frankly, last week was the first time we've heard of him but a little research into the 6-foot-9 junior big man lends credence to the thought that he'll be a big riser this spring.

Why? Last week Tyler cracked the 1,000 point barrier at his school. He's already Palm Harbor's all-time leading scorer and shot blocker and, according to the St. Petersburg Times, is likely to hold every record the school has by the time he graduates. When you average 22 and 10, people tend to notice.

So, why has it taken so long to unearth this diamond in Florida? "I've grown a little bit and gotten stronger," Tyler said of his development as a junior. "I've just got to hit the weights and get ready for AAU and keep working hard."

Hard work is the way he does it. Tyler carries a 3.8 GPA and his SAT score – which he's very modest about – is close to 1,200. Folks, 22 points and a big time GPA are the ingredients for a serious recruitment that should attract high-majors.

The young man has already been on unofficials to Georgia Tech, Florida State and Florida. The Gators should know the most about him since his brother is a walk-on hooper in Gainesville.

Tyler has room to grow and to reach the highest level possible, there remains work to be done. His AAU coach, Tom Topping, sees a prospect with room to grow.

"He's going to have to learn how to really ratchet up his intensity level and aggressiveness," Topping said. "I really think he'll be able to do that when he's playing with us. He's only going to have to play his position as well as he can. He's going to be able to focus on just playing his position to the best of his ability. I think he has a great chance to do that."

Central Florida, Wofford and Texas A&M are reported offers for Tyler. Georgia Tech, UCF, Florida State, South Florida, Clemson and Virginia Tech have been in to see him.

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