Sardis secondary basketball grad Tyus De Vries has been named to the Canada West All-Rookie team.
De Vries just finished his first season with the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack. Coming off the bench and playing an average of 23.5 minutes per game in a small-forward role, the six-foot-four and 195 pound freshman averaged 6.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1 assist per match.
“Physically, the minutes were a lot less than high school where I played 38 per game, but mentally it was way more demanding with way more things to remember,” De Vries said. “If you watched the games you could see coach (Scott Clark) yelling at me about four times per quarter.”
Though he played small forward, De Vries made the All-Rookie team as a guard, joined by UBC guard Mason Bourcier and UBC forward Grant Shephard, Calgary forward Mason Foreman and Lethbridge guard Awak Piom.
“I had a couple bad weekends to end the season where I didn’t shoot the ball very well and I had a few too many rebounds, and I wasn’t sure if I would make it,” De Vries said. “I’m very excited that I did.”
Clark saw the teenager operate day in and day out on the TRU campus, and if hard work counted for anything he figured De Vries was a shoo-in.
“Tyus is a guy who came in trying to compete for minutes,” Clark said. “His mental and physical approach were good and he had a very good freshman year.
“There was the odd up and down and that is going to happen with a young guy, but there is a lot of good basketball in his future. He is a great guy, a great student and teammate. We are happy to have him here and be able to coach him this year, and the future will be a pleasure.”
De Vries agreed that the season was not 100 per cent smooth sailing.
He thinks it took about a month before he felt comfortable in a game, and he knows his game evolved big time throughout the season.
“Scott got on me a lot about mental things like making sure I’m in help-side D, things that weren’t very important in high school because players at that level weren’t capable to making the plays that the university players are,” De Vries said. “A lot of times that first month it was like, ‘Don’t get left behind! Don’t get left behind! Oh crap, I have the ball.’
“Two things I realized really early on that I needed to work on were my speed and quickness and my ball-handling ability, and I’ve been working really hard trying to pick those up.”
Clark was most impressed with the way the teenager bought into the culture at TRU.
“All the guys including Tyus are dedicated to being the best athlete they can be for themselves and their teammates,” Clark explained. “You are trying to teach the values of basketball that they can use in their life once their career is over.
“Dedication, hard work, perseverance and a sense of responsibility to the group, knowing that you are a major piece of the group — I think Tyus understands that and really embodies what our team culture is about.”
De Vries feels totally at home now at TRU and looks forward to his sophomore season.
“When I went there I knew Scott had a pretty specific way of doing things, and when you do things his way you play,” De Vries said. “I found his systems on offence and defence worked really well for me because I got the ball in good places where I could score, and I didn’t end up having to guard someone I was incapable of guarding.
“So it was easy to buy in right away and that made a big difference thisyear.”