Alex Tyus: With springs under his feet

2015-07-23T15:45:46+00:00 2015-07-23T15:45:46+00:00.

Lefteris Moutis

23/Jul/15 15:45

This summer Alex Tyus was one of the most sought-after undersized centers and Efes managed to “steal him away” and add him to an enviable frontline

By Lefteris Moutis/

This summer Alex Tyus was one of the most sought-after undersized centers and Efes managed to “steal him away” and add him to an enviable frontline.

Changing religion changed his career

Alex Tyus’s story is quite interesting and unique. He played college ball in Florida under Billy Donovan and he showed that he had enough qualities to have a career in Europe, but not in the NBA, where he didn’t have the strength or the height to be effective in the frontline, but also didn’t have the shooting or dribbling ability to play away from the basket.

Tyus opened the way for his European career thanks to his… Jewish roommate in his second year of college. He converted to Judaism together with his then girlfriend and current wife and as soon as he graduated the prospect of the Israeli championship was wide open, since he became a holder of an Israeli passport after his conversion. He didn’t receive any offers from the NBA and so he signed his first professional contract with Maccabi Ashdod.

He left very good impressions (13.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game) and next season he got a call from Andrea Trinchieri and Cantu, where he made his debut in the Euroleague. In the 2012-13 season the undersized centers were becoming… a trend and Tyus showed that he could improve and be counted among the elite of such players. In Italy he improved even further and in the summer of 2013 Maccabi came calling, since due to his passport his case was a must for the Israelis.

He started the season a bit numb and in the fall of that year there were thoughts of replacing him, with Olympiacos having some advanced contacts with him. David Blatt insisted on him, he gave him more playing time and he was rewarded in the last stretch of the season. Culminating in the Final Four in Milan, Tyus made the difference by leading the athletic team of Maccabi to winning the Euroleague.

Next season it was the same. The American-Israeli center would constantly raise his performance level as the season was progressing, with Maccabi however experiencing one of the worst seasons in their history as they were knocked out of the Israeli championship in the semifinals and of the Euroleague in the quarterfinals with 0-3 from Fenerbahce.

Advantages and disadvantages of his game

Alex Tyus cannot make a difference alone in a game and as a result he’s not very consistent in his performances. He has quite a few ups and downs, but defensively he can do an excellent job thwarting many offenses. He has excellent athletic qualities and he can play excellent defense over the rim. Also, he’s fast and he can play good defense along the perimeter against the opposing guards.

However, he has some clear disadvantages in offense. He doesn’t create plays for himself and he can’t play with his back against the basket, nor can he shoot from mid- or long-range. Also, he’s an easy target for the opposition since he has bad shot percentages that barely exceed 50%. In offense he’s effective in transition games, while the biggest percentage of his points come from offensive rebounds.

His addition to Efes’s roster alongside players like Bryant Dunston and Derrick Brown shows that Dusan Ivkovic wants to create the most athletic frontline in Europe. Thomas Heurtel’s presence in the backcourt guarantees that Tyus will get enough chances to finish plays close to the basket. Maccabi had a similarly athletic roster in their frontline last year, but Tyus only played as a center, like Dunston in Olympiacos. This means that these two will usually play alternately and not together. Besides, Derrick Brown’s presence in the power forward position skyrockets the athleticism in the Turks’ roster.