NBA prospect Tyler Bey from the Colorado Buffaloes recently joined Raquel Rodriguez on Babcock Hoops Q&A Sessions. They discussed him growing up in Las Vegas, his time at Colorado, the improvements that he’s made, what he'll bring to an NBA team, and more.
Can you tell us a little bit about what it was like growing up in Las Vegas?
Tyler Bey: Las Vegas is not a place for kids. Everyone comes here and gets turned up, enjoying themselves after they turn 21. For me as a kid, my mom and sister had to grind it out. My mom had two jobs and it was really hard for the three of us just because like I said, she had two jobs and was barely home. My sister was always taking care of us. Vegas is always active, there were always parties and stuff, but as a kid, I had to learn how to work my way around it.
You opted to reclassify and spend a year developing at Middlebrooks Academy. What went behind your decision to take that route?
Bey: I didn’t have the grades to go straight to D-1 out of high school. It was either the Juco route or prep school. Obviously, I chose the prep school route. During that process, I had to get my grades straight, and I figured out how to pass classes and get good grades. It got me where I'm at today.
You had your choice of several schools, including a Pac-12 rival in Arizona State. Can you take us through that recruiting process and what ultimately led you to Colorado?
Bey: My recruiting process was fun. It really blew up my last year of prep school. I had like 30 offers. I originally wanted to go to San Diego State and I probably would have committed there. ASU was my second choice. Once I went to Colorado for my official visit, I just automatically fell in love with it. Coach Boyle talked about how he believed in me, how I could be a pro, and how he could develop me into the player that I am today. It all worked out, honestly.
You were able to compete against your cousin Jamal Bey who was with the Washington Huskies. What was that experience like?
Bey: It was fun, my family was there. It’s crazy, we grew up together and we never thought we would play in a D1 or the Pac-12 against each other. It was definitely a great experience. I love playing against my cousin and having my family there with their support. It was great!
Your coach from Colorado, Coach Tad Boyle, is described as one of the best defensive coaches in college basketball. How would you describe playing for him? And what was your biggest takeaway from being with him for three years?
Bey: I would say Coach Boyle is one of those guys who finds a way to make it work for you. He's one of those guys that's going to talk to you, he's going to get on you, and he’s going to make you feel bad about yourself, but at the end of the day, he’s a guy that cares. When it comes down to it, what he did with my game is really just simple: paying attention to detail, being coachable — all of those little things. Other than that, he's a great coach off the court. He still talks to me to this day, so I appreciate him more than ever.
The Pac-12 has one of the richest histories in college basketball. How did you feel playing at such a high level of competition? And how has that prepared you for the NBA?
Bey: It definitely prepared me for the NBA. In my freshman year, we went against people like Deandre Ayton and Allonzo Trier, those types of guys. It just showed me that I could compete with them. It gave me confidence that if I improved, I could be even better than those guys, people like Josh Green, and Nico. It just gives me confidence that I can compete against those guys, and play at the same level as them.
Ultimately, how will you remember your time at Colorado?
Bey: It was fun! The brotherhood we built there, the friendships, I think those will last for a lifetime. My teammates were so close. It was hard to leave because our bond was just so different and so close, we could talk to each other and have fun with each other. I just loved how we all had a vibe with each other on the court and off the court. I’m definitely going to miss my teammates.
I'm sure it was challenging to have that time cut short, of course, due to the pandemic back in March. I think you guys were in the middle of the Pac-12 tournament and then had to be sent home. What was that like for you?
Bey: We had just lost to Washington before they cut all the games off. So for us, we were heartbroken. At the same time, we just felt like we should have played better. We should have played like it was our last game, which it was. I think we just took everything for granted, honestly.
You won the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year this year in addition to repeating as an all-conference selection. Is that something you specifically set out to achieve this season?
Bey: Yeah, I've been hanging my hat on Defensive Player of the Year since I got to Colorado. It's something that I’ve talked about since I got there. I wanted to win. I feel like I was capable of winning my freshman year and that just gave me the confidence to keep going and trying for it. I hang my hat on defense and I take pride in defense a lot. Winning that was huge for me.
Can you walk us through a typical day as you currently prepare for the NBA draft?
Bey: I wake up at 9 AM and eat. I have workouts at 10 AM. From there, I lift at 11 AM and come back home. I usually have a couple of interviews. After that, I'll go back at 3 PM and get another workout in and have the rest of the day to myself. Typically, I spend time with my family and friends — I’ve only got a couple of friends here. I really just play video games for most of the day.
Besides basketball, what other interests and hobbies do you have?
Bey: Video games are something I play every day. I just stay out of the way and keep it simple. I don’t want to do too much during this time.
So what's your favorite video game?
Bey: I've been playing this game called Rocket League a lot. I’ve been playing that every day, it's pretty fun. Also, Call of Duty, 2K, all the simple stuff.
For those who are unfamiliar with your game, would you mind giving us a rundown of who you are as a player on the court?
Bey: I'm a guy who loves to play defense. I take pride in it. I’m energetic and have a very high motor. I love to run the floor, dunk the ball, and get easy baskets. I think defense is the base of my game, though. It’s something that I really love to do, and a lot of people don’t love to do it. They're not comfortable. I let the game come to me and I just play.
Who is one player you like to model your game after?
Bey: I would say, Shawn Marion. I love his game! I think that I could be just like him. I would also say that Andre Roberson is a guy who I look up to, he went to Colorado as well, so I have to say him, too. I’d probably say those two guys are it.
What are some things you like to work on and improve on your game?
Bey: My shooting ability and my ability to handle the ball. I think those are the two main things I need to work on and just being consistent every day.
What are some aspects you feel that you've grown the most during your time at Boulder and these past three years?
Bey: I would say just mentally, I’ve learned how to get through things, and not only get through them but finish them correctly; things like school, going to class, taking care of my grades. I always hated school, so for me, that was a big accomplishment just to go there and take care of business.
Let's pretend you just entered an elevator with a general manager. What is your elevator pitch as to why he should select you?
Bey: I would say that I'm a guy who loves to do the dirty work — the dirty work that no one loves to do, like diving on the floor, guarding the best player on the court. I take pride in defense, so if the game is on the line and the coach puts me in, he should expect me to go out there and get a stop. I'm going to do all I can to do that. I'm a guy who loves to improve and see myself get better; I stay in the gym as much as I can.