Battling Injuries Makes USA Nike Hoop Summit Guard Tyrese Maxey Love Basketball Even More
Tyrese Maxey earned a gold medal at the 2018 FIBA U18 Americas Championship last year in St. Catharines, Canada, though he nearly wasn’t on the court for that momentous win.
Maxey, a 6-foot-4, 190-pound combination guard at South Garland High School in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, started the first three games of the tournament, but sprained his right ankle and ended up missing the USA’s quarterfinal and semifinal games.
A traditionally high-scoring player, he averaged 8.8 points per game throughout the tournament and didn’t get to contribute as much as he had hoped in a 113-74 win over Canada in the gold medal game.
“I played pretty well, but then I hurt my ankle,” said the 18-year-old Maxey.
“It was hard to sit out and watch my teammates go to war without me, but it was still a great feeling to win that gold medal. That’s what we went up there for.”
Maxey has been selected to represent his country once again, this time in one of the biggest high school games of the year when the USA takes on the World Select Team in the 22nd annual Nike Hoop Summit on Friday, April 12 at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. (Tickets)
Being selected for the Nike Hoop Summit is another chance for the University of Kentucky commit to showcase his skills and work ethic on a big stage.
“It’s always an honor to put USA across your chest,” said Maxey, who is ranked No. 7 overall in the USA Today Chosen 25.
Maxey knew full well that the sprained ankle at the U18 Americas would merely hold him back, not prevent him from playing.
“That injury wasn’t anything compared to when I was hurt before my freshman season,” he said.
That year, Maxey broke his left fibula and dislocated that ankle, a rehabilitation process that he says took four or five months but taught him valuable lessons.
“Being out injured all that time makes you resilient,” he said. “It makes you want to come back stronger. It tests your patience and your love for the game. It made me love and enjoy the game even more.”
Recruiting analyst Evan Daniels is very high on Maxey’s potential, saying to the Lexington Herald Leader that “Maxey’s biggest strength is his ability to score … he is just wired up to get buckets. And he can do it at all three levels. He’s competitive. He’s aggressive off the dribble. But I think scoring is where he really excels.”
“Tyrese has unbelievable competitive spirit,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said in a news release after Maxey signed. “I love Tyrese’s basketball savvy. He has an elite ability to score the ball, yet he creates shots for his teammates, he defends and he rebounds. In all the time I’ve watched him play, rarely does he make the wrong play. He may not make every shot, but he almost always makes the right play. You can tell that he’s a coach’s son. Physically he is going to be able compete with the best in the country.”
Choosing Kentucky seemed like an easy choice for Maxey, who committed last spring.
“I knew that’s right where I wanted to be to study academics and play basketball,” Maxey said. “I got it out of the way early because I felt it was the right situation for me.”
Maxey is looking forward to learning from Calipari and is excited to see what the legendary coach has in store for him.
Another good coaching situation is back at home as his dad, Tyrone, returns as assistant coach at South Garland for Tyrese’s senior season. Tyrone Maxey stepped down from his position as director of player development at SMU to be with his son for one final season of high school ball.
“One thing he’s always done for me is keep it real,” Tyrese said of his father. “He never sugarcoats anything, not just for me, but for the entire team. If anything, it’s helped us all become closer as a team.”
“What drives me is just the love of the game and the desire to be great at everything I do,” said Maxey, who is planning on majoring in broadcast journalism with an eye on broadcasting basketball when his playing career is over.
“I want to do things not just to do them, but to be great at them,” he added. “I’m interested in being a great student. I take pride in that. People stereotype great athletes and say they’re only really good at football or basketball, but I want people to look at me and say I’m a great student, a great basketball player, I treat everybody well. And I’m very thankful just to be alive and to be able to play the game of basketball every single day.”