When I began covering KU basketball in 1998 and realized my professional dream as a writer, a…
Kansas Duo Says Goodbye
Although Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed took different paths to get to Kansas they both end their careers at home on Wednesday intertwined.
Basketball was always in the blood in both the Morningstar and Reed families. Tyrel's father a basketball coach, and Brady's father Roger, a former standout at KU. Both aspired to reach their dreams and don the crimson and blue one day.
"They've been great," Self said of his senior duo. "(Brady) has basically been, even though he has been a sixth man, a three year starter for us. He started all the games as a sophomore and some as a junior and senior, so he's been great."
"Tyrel was pretty highly recruited. He had offers from Missouri, K-State, and Oklahoma. We kind of hesitated and finally said, `Hey, that kid is such a great kid. He would be great for our program.'"
And now Reed, a former Mr. Kansas Basketball, has the chance to top Sherron Collins' 130 career wins. For Tyrel, just like they were for Sherron, the numbers are staggering. The 6-2 Burlington senior stands at 124 wins with three Big 12 regular season titles, two Conference Tournament titles, one Final Four, and one National Championship. Of course he has a chance to add to all of that in the next few weeks. Reed was recently named an academic All-American and will end his KU career in the top 10 in virtually every category that involves the college three-point arc.
"I love taking big shots. I love the big stage. I have confidence in myself to knock that shot down. It's just always been that way," Tyrel said.
But if you got to know Tyrel during his four-year tenure you know he's much more than a clutch three-point shooter. He's a 3.65 student with an unmatched drive. He's known for his yearly dominance of Self's preseason Boot Camp and his weight room mastery, and his toughness and will to win is rarely matched. He played last year with a broken a toe and is not 100 percent healthy right now. He never complains he just goes to "work" every single day.
According to Self there's a very good reason why Tyrel's been able to keep his spot, "because he wouldn't let anyone take it from him."
Brady has been the quiet assassin for this team. A year ago it was his defense drawing praise, this year it's been his always intuitive ability to move the ball on offense and his born-again shooting touch. In fact, his career three-point field goal percentage currently sits at 41.5, good enough for eighth all-time at Kansas and making him an invaluable cog in a drive to a national title.
Things haven't been smooth for the Lawrence High grad that redshirted during the National Championship run in 2008 and fought thru a suspension last season. Morningstar has taken his share of hits from fans but his value on the court has never been questioned by those close to the program.
"Not only have those two (Morningstar and Reed) been great for our program they've been to the point where if they don't perform well, we don't win," said Self pointing to both players worth. "There have been huge improvements in their developments since they got here."
As a coach you want to see improvement and development in your players and Self and his staff can be proud that Morningstar and Reed have exceeded expectations.
For every punch NCAA Men's basketball takes people need to remember that stories like Brady's and Tyrel's are what college basketball is all about. They aren't the duo that NBA scouts are salivating over on the sidelines but they have as much to do with KU's success as the next NBA prospect to take the court at historic Phog Allen Fieldhouse.
Not every player on your roster can be a potential one-and-done and Self recognizes that. Morningstar and Reed were four-year players that he felt would bolster his program through their play and their character and neither has disappointed.
‘Of course Brady and Tyrel, you could almost group them together in my opinion," Self told reporters in his weekly news conference. "Tyrel came in as a nervous kid. Really nervous around me and didn't get me at all for awhile. As he's matured and developed I think he's one of the most fun kids to be around. I'll miss Brady a ton because he's as much as the personality of the team as anyone is."
Neither will visually intimidate you or wow you with athleticism – though both are way more athletic than people give them credit for – but they will just wear you down with precision and grittiness. So when the names Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar are announced on Wednesday, stand up and clap because Kansas can claim mission accomplished once again. Two young men will leave campus better men with incredible wins on the court and a diploma in hand.
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