NBA prospect Ty-Shon Alexander from Creighton recently joined Raquel Rodriguez on Babcock Hoops Q&A Sessions. They discussed his journey to the NBA, his decision to remain in the draft, and more.
Raquel Rodriguez: I’d like to start with some of your personal background. I know that you were born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. Is that where your family is from originally?
Ty-Shon Alexander: My mom is from a place that’s about an hour away from Charlotte, North Carolina. She stayed in Sanford, North Carolina which is near Fayetteville. My dad was born and raised in Charlotte.
Do you have any siblings?
Yeah, I have one younger brother. He's about to turn 20 years old.
What is it like being an older brother and seeing him grow up?
It’s actually very nice. It’s crazy, just watching him develop into the person that he has become; it's kind of weird to see the age that he is right now. I kind of forget every now and then.
From my understanding, you attended three different high schools. Why so many moves?
I used to live in Concord, North Carolina and it was about a 45-minute drive. I stayed there starting in fourth grade because I was playing AAU basketball with a team down there. We didn't want to drive back and forth because 45 minutes times two, that's a couple of hours. We decided to move to Concord, North Carolina when I was in fourth grade and we stayed there until my ninth grade year. I left and went to Northside High School. I went there because of my mentor and trainer, Jeff McInnis. When I had an opportunity to attend Oak Hill Academy, I chose the big-time, powerhouse high school. I was there for the rest of my high school career. Those are the reasons why I attended three high schools.
At what point did you realize that you may have a chance to have a really special basketball career?
It was in middle school because I received my first D-1 offer at the start of my 8th-grade year.
So you’re from Charlotte where there are so many great programs nearby, but you decided to go to Creighton in Omaha, Nebraska. How did you end up there?
It was mainly because of the coaching staff and also about Creighton being a very small Catholic private school. The number one sport there is basketball. The fans and the culture at Creighton was something that I wanted to be a part of. I really respect and thank all my coaches and the players I played with, who helped me get to where I am at right now. I chose Creighton around my 10th-grade year and I never looked back.
In the summer of 2019, you represented the United States in the Pan American Games. How was that experience?
It was exciting! It was fun to be able to go overseas to play against a lot of people that play overseas and play against guys that I played against throughout my college career. It was very exciting and I learned a lot from coach Cooley. He was a huge mentor for me during my junior year. All around it was just a great experience.
You signed with an agent early on in the draft process which eliminated the option to return back to school. What led you to decide to stay in the draft?
I'm a hundred percent ready. I had a huge jump in my junior year. I focused and dialed in on things that I needed to work on to prepare myself for the position that I am in right now. As soon as I started talking to my family, a couple of coaches back at school, and Jeff, I had the opportunity to sign with Prosport Management with Nate Conley. It's a huge honor and I'm very blessed to be in the position that I am in.
This season at Creighton it seemed that you were often tasked with defending the opponent's best offensive player. What is your mentality on the defensive end?
My mentality was basically to guard their best player like you just said. For us to win games, that is something that I had to do. I wanted to basically show everybody that I can be one of the best defenders in the NCAA, and do it on the offensive end as well. I sat aside with Coach McDermott, and we had a great talk about some things that I needed to work on and my defensive numbers. That was something that I really dialed in and wanted to take the part of, especially with the team that we had. For us to be good, I needed to guard their best player. That's something I came to acknowledge. The best players on teams are usually the top scorers; I didn’t want them to put up numbers. That was my mentality, to always be able to stop the opponent so we could win games.
During your college career, your three-point percentage rose each season with increased volume. Talk to me about the role you played at Creighton, the shots you were afforded, and do you think that your role will change much in the NBA?
I think my role will change a lot. I played off the ball a lot at Creighton and every once in awhile I would go get the ball. I was kind of a combo guard but I really didn't have to play much of the point guard position. I really dialed in on trying to shoot up my shooting percentage and everything else off the dribble. I tried to get good, high percentage shots. By the time I get a chance to play in the NBA, I'm going to be more of a combo guard and playing the one a lot more. That’s something that I need to focus on, trying to better my ball-handling skills, better my looks and passing, reading defenses. Those are the biggest ways my role will change, playing more of the point guard position.
Raquel: What do you think is the biggest adjustment that you're expecting to have will be?
I think one of the biggest adjustments for me is playing the point guard position. Is that something I’m comfortable doing? It’s something that I did my freshman year of college, but I'm looking forward to playing point guard. I’ve been working on a lot of things, especially my ball handling, and that's one of the big adjustments that I'm going to have to make.
So let's flash forward five years from now. What role in the NBA do you expect to fulfill for a team?
I'm expecting to be a guy that's going to either come off the bench or even start one day, hopefully. I’m going to do what I have to do. Just play my role, whether that's going to be having the ball in my hand or not. I’m also going to stop the best player on the opposite end, and contribute to being a team player. Those are things that I know I can do. I'm going to have to play my role and that's something I look forward to. I’m going to be happy and blessed to be in a position that I am in.
Are there any current or former players that you like to compare yourself to?
I like to compare myself to CJ McCollum. I watch a lot of his games. I try to study his game as much as possible and try to mimic a lot of things that he does. He's a great ball-handler, which I don’t think a lot of people know about. He can create his own shot. He's also a great on-ball defender. He's a combo guard, which is something that I have to look forward to being as well.
What are some things that you would like to improve in your game?
A big thing is my athleticism. I've been working on that a lot this year, especially during the summertime, by trying to increase my vertical and get a lot faster. I’m also working on my ball handling. I've been really dialed in a lot with a lot of ball-handling skills, especially with my former trainer Jeff McInnis. He played in the NBA for about 15 years and he was mainly a point guard. He's really been dialed in and focusing a lot on my ball-handling and doing things the right way.
This is going to be the last question. Let's pretend you've just entered an elevator with a general manager of a team that's considering selecting you, what's your elevator pitch to why you're his guy?
I would tell him that I'm a very humble and respectful guy. What they’re going to get in me is a hard worker that’s motivated and is a winner. That's something I want. I want to be able to win games. I want to be able to one day win a championship, and I want to have fun just doing it because playing basketball is a very fun sport. I don't want to be mad. I don't want to be all upset. I want to be able to come in and respect the players that I'm with, have fun doing what I have to do, and just love the game that I'm playing.