When I first met the hyped up 2013 prospect Tyler Roberson, it was in a hot gym in Union, NJ. I walked up to him and said, “Tyler, I’m Eli, and it’s a pleasure to meet you.” His response was very low key as he stuck out his huge hand and said, “Thanks. You too.”
As I started to walk away, he gave me a tap on my shoulder and said, “Eli. Don’t you work for the NBA or something like that?”
I turned around, and gave him a nice smile. “I do not. I blog about the NBA, and hopefully will work for the NBA or ESPN one day. But why do you ask?” His response was so touching to me as he said, “Well, I’ve heard a lot about you, and if you can give me any help that’d be cool.”
So, there it was. It hit me then that I wanted to help this kid. I wanted to help guide him in choosing the right school for him, and help him pursue his dreams of playing in the NBA. But, Tyler isn’t just an ordinary kid. He reminds me of one of the best players we have on this universe, Kevin Durant. Tyler and Kevin both exhibit an extreme amount of humbleness, they both work their tails off, and they both have this tall lengthy athletic tone to them.
When you think of a humble and grounded player, Tyler is one that comes to mind. He doesn’t say much, doesn’t make a big scene out of things, and more importantly doesn’t come off as ignorant or cocky in the slightest. Matter in fact, one day I asked him why he doesn’t have a twitter or a Facebook, and his response was, “I don’t want to be bothered.” These days, every young basketball has their usual twitter with a short and simple biography section that tells about themselves, which often comes off as conceded. Not Tyler. That’s just not him as a person. Tyler does what he does and doesn’t say a lick about it.
Roberson’s work ethic is remarkable. A day in the life for him consists of an early morning lifting session, then a basketball workout with his trainers Tommy Sacks and Sandy Pyonin, then a workout with his AAU team the NJ Roadrunners, and finally a late night workout with his high school team, Roselle Catholic. Often when you’re in the roadrunner gym in Union, NJ, after everyone is done working out, Sacks or Pyonin would give a nice scream of, “Tyler, 500 more shots.” And instantly, you would see me rebounding for a kid who is working on his jump shot and trying to get 500 shots up.
The last, and most important aspect of Roberson, is his potential. When you first see Tyler, you notice his 6-foot-8 body. To go along with his length, he has unbelievable athleticism and versatility. All it takes is a strong pump fake, one hard dribble, and whoever is near the rim defensively, is now on a poster.
Yesterday, Roberson committed to the University of Syracuse. He will join NJ high school player and led by five-star point guard Tyler Ennis at Syracuse. Coach Mike Hopkins, and Jim Boeheim did a wonderful job in recruiting Roberson, and they got a gem. When I asked Utah Jazz guard Randy Foye about Tyler, he said, “He’s going to be real good.” If you ask his coach, Sandy Pyonin, he will tell you he will be a lottery pick in the NBA. If you ask me, I will most likely say the same thing.