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Tyus of the north

By BRYCE EVANS, Star Tribune, 01/24/12, 4:25PM CST


Anoka's high-scoring Marcus Tyus is a quiet kid who loves the game.

Marcus Tyus describes himself as a “slasher-type” player and says he learned to drive around taller opponents as a youngster.

Anyone following Minnesota high school basketball this season has heard the name "Tyus" quite a bit.

Anoka's high-scoring point guard Marcus Tyus has done a lot to earn that type of recognition. It's just that he's not the Tyus normally getting it. The "Tyus" most basketball fans are fawning over is Apple Valley sophomore phenom Tyus Jones.

Except for those who follow the sport in Anoka.

"When you mention Tyus around this area," Anoka head coach Paul Broberg said, "people know you mean Marcus."

That's for good reason. With five games of 30-plus points already this season, Anoka's star senior ranks among the metro leaders in points per game (25.2 as of Friday). In a Jan. 17 loss to Park Center, he eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for his career.

It might not be snagging headlines across the state, but Tyus' play is a main reason that Anoka's rollercoaster season has seen more ups than downs.

"People around here know that Marcus is a special player," Broberg said. "He's a quiet kid, but when it comes to basketball, he just loves the game."

Tyus said he doesn't want statistics or numbers to define him as a player, but he can't help but admit that his entire game might be predicated on one measure: his height. Most of his life, Tyus was one of the smaller players on the court. At 6-1 and 175 pounds this year, he knows he's not going to overpower many people.

"When I was younger, I couldn't shoot over people because they were always taller," he said. "So, I learned to just drive around them, get to the basket to score. I've just kept doing that.

"I feel like I've always just been more of a slasher-type player -- drive before shoot. I've always played that way."

Tyus was a scorer at every level growing up. He first cracked Broberg's starting lineup after a stretch of hot shooting during his sophomore season.

It was as a junior, though, that Tyus had his true breakout moment. In a Northwest Suburban matchup with Elk River, Tyus racked up 24 points by halftime.

"Someone told me that I was only 20 points away from the school record," he said. "I wasn't really thinking about it, though, because that's still a lot."

His total swelled to 42 by the time the fourth quarter ended in a tie. Four free throws in overtime not only sealed the 94-86 victory, but it helped etch Tyus's name in the Anoka record books. He finished the night 14-for-19 from the field, 6-for-8 on three-pointers and 12-for-13 at the line.

"That was a big moment for me, a big step up," Tyus said.

He said it gave him more confidence, too, leading to a strong summer with his AAU team, 43 Hoops, and a scholarship offer from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. The Summit League school recruited him hard from the start, Tyus said, and he signed with the Mavericks before this season started.

He expects to play a mixture of point and off guard in Nebraska-Omaha's two-guard system, but said he's not all that focused on college ball right now.

Tyus isn't thinking about career milestones, either, or his scoring average.

What he is worried about, he said, is winning a lot of games. As far as he's concerned, the other Tyus can have all the headlines, as long as Anoka makes a long postseason run that ends with a berth in the state tournament.

"We can do it, I know we're good enough," Tyus said. "We just haven't gotten it together yet, but we will."

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