The rise of true freshman B.J. Tyson is one of the high points of East Carolina’s basketball season. He took no time assimilating into the team, which should come as no shock to anyone who was familiar with him out of high school.
As a senior at Anson (Wadesboro, N.C.), Tyson averaged 26.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.1 steals and 3.2 assists a game. He wasted no time proving that skill could translate to the next level. The reserve guard finished with 22 points, six rebounds, five steals and a pair of assists in his collegiate debut versus North Carolina Wesleyan.
Over the next few games, Tyson would get the chance to play more minutes. He averaged just over 20 minutes in his first four games, which included only playing 13 minutes in the first game of the Gulf Coast Showcase versus Green Bay.
Tyson only contributed four points and an assist as the Pirates fell to Green Bay 66-49. He’d see more action in the last two games of the tournament, though. He played 30 minutes in a win over Fresno State and another 30 minutes in a two-point, 75-73 loss to Hawaii. He scored over 20 points in each of those outings, also adding a combined nine rebounds and five assists.
Now Tyson stands as one of two freshman in the American Athletic Conference to lead his team in scoring. Along with Central Florida’s B.J. Taylor, who is averaging 14.8 points a game, Tyson leads his Pirates with 13.5 a game. He’s also the only player in the conference to lead his team in scoring from the bench.
The Pirates currently have five conference games—and their first AAC win—under their belt. He’s scored in double digits in three of those five games, so the consistency isn’t all there yet, but he’s still averaging 10.6 points a game. On top of that, Tyson also leads ECU with 5.0 rebounds a game in conference play.
“He’s ready for it,” said Lebo following the win over Houston. “He’s not afraid of the moment. He’s jacked up. He’s ready to play. He’s a fun kid to coach. He enjoys going out there and playing. He really loves it.”
There are certain things about Tyson that don’t show up in the statistics. He brings a lot of energy when he’s on the court and has been one of the team’s most explosive players. He showed that clearly last time at home. When Houston made a comeback down the stretch, Tyson followed up a jumper from White with a one-handed dunk on a breakaway that elicited the loudest reaction of the game from the home crowd.
Tyson isn’t immune to setbacks. While he dished out five assists and grabbed five boards last time out against Southern Methodist, he went 1-for-8 with just two points in 27 minutes. SMU convincingly won that contest, 77-54.