"I'm a huge football and basketball fan and whenever I would watch sports on television, for some reason Alex locked into the Gators and it was at a very young age," said Thomas Tyus Tuesday night. "He's probably been a die-hard Gator ever since he was 12. He could probably name you every basketball player and football player the Gators have had the past six years."
So it came as no shock to Thomas and Patricia Tyus Tuesday afternoon when Alex decided to put an end to the recruiting speculation by committing to Coach Billy Donovan and the Florida Gators. If anything, the commitment was expected once Donovan made it perfectly clear that he wanted Alex wearing orange and blue the next four years.
The commitment was set up Monday when Donovan called the 6-9, 210-pound Tyus, a small forward with inside skills who plays for Cincinnati's Harmony Christian School. Donovan and the Florida staff had watched Tyus play tough despite a fractured finger at the ABCD Camp in Teaneck, New Jersey last week. A couple of weeks earlier, Tyus was at the Billy Donovan Camp in Gainesville.
The Monday evening call set up a conference call between Alex and his parents Tuesday afternoon. When Donovan offered the scholarship Alex wasted no time making the commitment, which wasn't the least bit surprising to his parents.
"That's the program that he's followed a long time," said Thomas Tyus. "It was just the right place for him. He was waiting for a call from them for a long time because being a Gator has always been his dream. He had some other schools that he had interest in as well but probably Florida moved to the front of any list that he would have as soon as he got a call from them. He's always been a Gator fan."
To celebrate the commitment, Alex and some of his friends went to see the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean" Tuesday night. Thomas and Patricia Tyus stayed home, still glowing from the good news.
"We think he's a good fit at Florida," said Thomas. "When we were down at Florida a couple of weeks ago, we were very impressed with Coach Donovan and his staff. First and foremost, we want our son to get a quality education and come out of his college experience with a marketable degree. We want that more than anything else.
"On our visit we were also impressed with Tom Williams who is the academic advisor down there. We really got the sense that he cares about the academics of the players. We have been very impressed with the academics at Florida and the fact that Coach Donovan graduates his players."
In addition to the way he stresses academics and getting a college degree, Thomas Tyus also liked the way that Donovan doesn't waste words when he's recruiting. Some coaches come across like used car salesmen. Donovan came across in a caring yet business-like fashion.
"He [Donovan] is very direct and to the point," said Thomas Tyus. "You don't get the feeling that he's trying to pull some wool over your eyes. He's direct and he answers your questions in a very straightforward way.
"I've always like the way he coaches his ball club and the style of basketball that he plays. That up-tempo style is exciting and fun to watch and Alex fits in with that very well. But there's more to it than just basketball and we felt that Coach Donovan and the University of Florida are everything that we're looking for. We think that Alex has made a very good choice."
Alex is just a shade under 6-9 and still growing taller, still filling out a lean and wiry but strong body. He's proven capable of playing four different positions in high school although at the college level he's likely to be a small forward that can play the power forward position in situations that call for a quicker player in the post.
He runs the floor very well, finishes on the break and shoots a nice mid-range jumper. He's been working hard during the summer months on his jumper, trying to extend the range so that he can become a more consistent threat from three-point range. He shot 33 percent from the arc as a junior at Harmony Christian where he averaged 20 points per game.
The way he runs the floor, plays defense on the press and defends on the perimeter will remind Gator fans of Corey Brewer.
"There's some similarities in the way they play," said Thomas Tyus, who ran track at Northeast Missouri State before finishing his college degree at Jacksonville State. "Alex is very quick and very athletic. He plays with a lot of energy and I think you will see that he's a kid that responds very well to coaching.
"I just think he's a good fit for the Florida Gators. I know he's happy about it. This is his dream school and now he's going to get a chance to play for them."
Tyus is the fourth commitment for Florida's recruiting class of 2007. He joins Nick Calathes (6-6 point guard) of Casselberry (FL) Lake Howell, Gary Clark (6-4 wing guard) of Sarasota (FL) Booker and Adam Allen (6-8 shooting guard) of Milton, FL. Calathes is rated five stars by Scout.com while Tyus is rated four. Clark and Allen both have three-star ratings. Florida is expected to add at least one more player to the 2007 recruiting class.