Shoot - that's Tyrel Reed's job.
Now is the time we get into the meat of the 2009-10 Kansas Jayhawks basketball player rotation. Graded-out and in the rearview mirror are the sparsely used freshman. Today, we move onto junior guard and Kansas native Tyrel Reed. Likely, not since the days of Jeff Boschee, have the Jayhawks had as pure of a shooter from anywhere on the court as Tyrel.
During his sophomore season of 2008-09, Tyrel was probably asked to fill a larger role within the team than he, or any Kansas fan, may have ever expected of him. After all, as a freshman on a team that won the national championship, he averaged 2 points and less than 1 assist in just over 6 minutes per game. Cue the mass exodus of graduating seniorsand and the early-to-the-NBA and , and suddenly there were over 99 unaccounted for minutes up for grabs. Reed responded with a less than stellar sophomore slump season that saw his field goal percentage drop by over 10 percent and three point percentage fall off par by almost 7 percent. A resurgent junior season would be necessary for Tyrel to prove a lot of doubters wrong.
And, a resurgent season it was for Tyrel this year. His shooting percentages from the field and three rose to 49.6 percent (up 8.9 from the year before) and 47.3 percent, (and 8.4 percent rise) respectively. However, probably most importantly for Tyrel was the drastic change in his assist-to-turnover ratio - more than doubling itself from a sickly 1.03 as a sophomore to to a healthy 2.60 as a junior. Perhaps Tyrel became a better player after a year of seasoning, or perhaps it was his slightly reduced role as the second guard off the bench for much of this season that gave him less responsibility, mostly as a ball handler, and allowed him to focus on his signature talent - the three point shot.
This year, Tyrel turned the ball over more than once in a game, exactly twice all year. As I've already said, that is the biggest thing that made Tyrel the important asset that he was this year. As the team turned the ball over 1.4 times per game less this year, you can credit Tyrel with nearly half of that difference - a 0.6 improvement. Again, it likely had a lot to do with reducing his role within the team, but you can never have too many reliable guards, can you?
On the season, Tyrel appeared in all 36 of the Jayhawks' games. His season got off to a slow start, going 0-6 from the field to start the season before 4-5 and 2-3 back to back performances against early con-conference opponents. From that point on, it was pretty much the Tyrel you would expect - clutch from behind that curved line. Exactly half of his 18 free throw attempts on the season came in the epic Big 12 Tournament championship game battle against Kansas State, a game in which we saw Tyrel go 7-9 from the stripe - 2 of his 3 total misses all year.
The high point of Tyrel's season is unquestionable. On the night of January 25, the Missouri Tigers rolled into Lawrence and were met with an ambush, lead in part by aa 4-4 barrage of three pointers by Tyrel. There's a reason "the Burlington Bomber" has been called the greatest Tiger slayer of them all. In the last two seasons, Tyrel has shot 60 percent (12-20) from three point range against Kansas biggest rival. Take out a 2-7 performance last year in Columbia and the numbers are even more impressive at 10-13. Honorable mention, naturally, for Tyrel this season would be when the Jayhawks traveled to Columbia for the rematch on March 6. Tyrel cooly went 3-5 from the field and three on shots mostly in the second half when the Tigers cut the 16 point halftime lead well into single digits. Tyrel was cool and calm as always with his stroke and fire the Jayhawks to another rivalry victory.
With senior guard Sherron Collins graduating and freshman wing Xavier Henry flirting with the NBA draft process, the 2010-11 season could bring the opportunity for a once again expanded role on the Kansas team for Tyrel. Maybe that will prove more fruitful for Tyrel's Kansas legacy, or maybe it's putting him in a position to not live up to expectations, as was the case last year. Whatever happens, Tyrel will remain the best pure shooter on the team and can't afford to let that change.
Final 2010 Grade: B+
Relative to what his role in the team was and what everyone thought the he could do coming to Kansas and after struggling last year, Tyrel overachieved and proved to be one of the more reliable players on a rather unreliable, inconsistent team. He had a knack for hitting big shots in big moments and that's something there is no stat for. Maybe we've seen the very best that Tyrel can be, or maybe he's got another level that he can take his game. If he can improve upon this season, he'll be nothing short of tremendous.