Alex Tyus was only hours away from being a Buckeye.
Playing for Harmony Community High in Cincinnati, the freshman forward admits he struggled with the decision to dismiss UF for a chance to compete at Ohio State.
BI was really close,C Tyus said. BI was less than 24 hours from committing to Ohio State. I?m glad I didn?t. I always wanted to go to Florida. Since I lived in Cincinnati, I took a lot of trips up to Ohio State. Obviously, now I realize that would have been a huge mistake.C
The idea of traveling so far away from home does little to scare Tyus, who said his heart always resided in the sunshine state.
BI always liked Coach (Billy) Donovan?s style of play,C he said. BThe way he always taught his players. And I always wanted to get out of the Midwest.C
The ties to Ohio State extend further for the athletic big man.
Tyus knows first-hand what it?s like to guard a former Buckeye and the No. 1 pick in this past summer?s NBA Draft - Greg Oden.
In July 2005, Tyus participated in the Reebok Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas, where he was a member of the D1 Greyhounds, a team that featured the likes of O.J. Mayo.
On a marquee Friday-night matchup, Tyus? squad squared off against the Spiece Indy Heat, a team composed of a slew of talent, including current NBA players Mike Conley Jr., Daequan Cook and Oden.
Tyus, at 6-foot-8, drew the assignment of the 7-footer. He allowed Oden to tally 18 points and 13 rebounds.
Tyus? team would lose 73-67, but he remains optimistic about his performance.
BHis team was so good he didn?t have to do much. I just had to concentrate on keeping him from getting the ball and offensive rebounds. I did pretty good,C Tyus said with a smile.
Tyus? decision to come to Gainesville will prove vital for the Gators. One of the most notable issues for the team is in the frontcourt, where a lack of an inside presence is likely to haunt the young Gators squad.
Donovan said Tyus is sure to see a lot of time at forward, and may even sub at center for Marreese Speights if the sophomore begins to tire or runs into foul trouble.
The two have been locked up in practice thus far, and Donovan likes what he?s seeing from his young player.
BIt?s impressive how much foot speed he has,C Donovan said. BIt worries me sometimes when he?s beating Marreese up and down the court all the time, but you have to give him his credit.C
Tyus and the rest of the Gators will have a chance to showcase their talent this Sunday, when the Gators host Fan Appreciation Day in place of Midnight Madness, which was scratched from this year?s schedule.
Tyus is looking forward to the opportunity, and said he should have no problem adjusting to the attention.
BI played in one game where there was 9,000 people there. I?ve played in a couple with 4,000,C he said. BI don?t know if there?s going to be that many on Sunday, but when the real games start and other places, there?s going to be a lot of people there.C