In 2019, we spoke to Tylor Perry, a Class of 2019 recruit out of Fort Coffee, Oklahoma, about his basketball journey up to that point. Now two years later, Tylor Perry is back to share what happened over the last 24 months of his basketball life between graduating from Spiro High School to committing to North Texas on Sunday.
This is Tylor Perry in his own words.
Doubt Their Doubt: The Tylor Perry Basketball Story
I think people pass the word underdog around way too much sometimes. I’m not sure if they really know what that word means. I don’t even use it anymore, because every kid in America tries to use it. Personally, I say, “I am the odds.”
Let me tell you what I mean by that. My mother wasn’t a star basketball player, but my dad was pretty good. He had the smarts to the game, but he wasn’t this big-time NBA guy or overseas guy. Don’t get me wrong, he could hoop from what I’ve been told. Butmy dad was in prison the first nine years of my life. So, to tell you the truth, all the knowledge I missed out on those first nine years, I’m learning from him now. Both of my brothers were solid basketball players, but they weren’t those types of players who are going to sell out gyms or just make the crowd go absolutely crazy.
In other words, I really didn’t come from a basketball family.
My whole family on my mother’s side is athletes and football players. Then there are a few of my cousins who could ball. But my dad’s side? Nah. I think it’s just me and him, to be honest.
With all that being said, God picked me and said, “Here son, go be great with that ball.” I know it didn’t just come from me and my dad. The feeling I get when that rock is in my hand and the way I think the game, some say it is second to none. But I know where it came from, so let me stop messing around: with the help of God! And plenty of hard work.
As an 8, 9, and 10-year-old, I remember waking up at the crack of dawn and sneaking outside before I had to get ready for school just to work on my game. I’d try to get at least an hour in every day before one of my brothers or mom came outside and yelled at me to get in the house before I woke the neighbors up. But I didn’t care, man, I really didn’t. I wanted to hoop.
That same drive I had as a 9-or-10-year-old is the same one I have today. The love for the game grew deeper. And I think it grew deeper because as I got older, the hate started to grow, too. When I hit the eighth grade is when the doubt poured in. As a 14-year-old kid, what do you do? Fold? Nah, not me. Even in times when I wanted to lay down and give up, my family pushed me. And I always had this little voice in the back of my head saying, “You can’t stop now, you have come too far.” I truly believe that was God saying, “I give you all this talent and blessing, and you’re just going to stop because people don’t believe in you?” It’d wake me up everytime, because he has the last say so regardless. I just continued to put my trust in him and myself.
Most people don’t know what it’s like to be really written off. The sad part is the same people who will try it are the same people who LOVED you when you were popping. To keep it all the way one thousand, I craved it when people would do it to me. It just fueled me so much. It makes me want to wake up the next morning. It’s my breakfast, lunch, and dinner sometimes.
In high school, I was a 3 star, bro. A 3 STAR! With zero Division I offers. Don’t get me wrong, DII is high-level basketball, and I had a few DII offers. But I just felt like I was letting my parents down by all the money, time, and hours they spent on highways and hotels. I felt like my ceiling was higher than DII. And that’s all I was ever told: “You’re a DII guard.” Okay lol. We’ll see.
I’m from Fort Coffee, Oklahoma. You know how many kids have signed to play DI out of Fort Coffee in the past 10-15 years? Two. My cousin McKinley, and now me. That should tell you something.
We don’t have the media outlets. We don’t even have a high school. We have to go down the road to Spiro High. And Spiro is only a 3A school. You know how painful some of those nights were thinking I’d never see the DI level?
When some of you read this, don’t think, “Oh I have to go DI or I’m not good.” NO! That is not the case at all. Go what fits you best, but don’t settle if you want to chase your dreams. I chose to do that.
Finishing up my senior year, I never thought I’d go JUCO. I always thought some small DI would come in at the last minute and grab me, but it never happened. That’s okay, because I knew God had other plans. At one point, I had really thought about going DII. It came down to Henderson State, Arkansas Tech, and Central Missouri. I sat down with my dad, and he told me I wouldn’t regret going JUCO.
I was about to go to Murray State College in Tishomingo, Oklahoma. Then, the big dogs from the Jayhawk Conference came calling. Butler Community College was my first offer. Coach Fish is a real cool dude. Props to him, because he can coach. Like, actually coach.
Then I get the call from some guy named Jay Herkelmen on a Monday afternoon. No clue who he is, what he’s done, or what his program was. All I know was that a couple dudes I grew up with – Tevin Brewer, Casey Benton, and Zederick “Ouda” Lee – all went there. Them vouching for Herk was enough for me. That Wednesday, I took my visit, and I committed the following Monday.
It was the best decision of my life. I went to Coffeyville as a boy who really knew nothing about the game. As I leave, I’m a man who learned so much from not just Coach Herk but my entire coaching staff and my teammates I went to war with the past two years.
But it wasn’t all peaches and cream when I first got there. I was the thirdstring point guard until October lol. I’ll be honest, I was about to get redshirted. Yes, redshirted. I don’t blame my coaches either. I came in and had zero confidence. I didn’t believe in myself and the work I had put in. It was looking real ugly at first.
I remember calling my old AAU coach,Freddie Lee, and telling him, “I gotta get outta here, bro.” I never called my mom, but I did call my dad and told him I don’t think this is the school for me. My dad told me on that phone I was going to be okay if I just trust in myself. He told me to believe in my craft. I had worked too hard to just lay down and fold.
That was another one of those times where God whispered in my ear and told me the storm was almost over. So, I kept working and working, and here comes October. My very first college scrimmage, I didn’t touch the floor. Do you know how embarrassed I was? To NOT TOUCH THE COURT the WHOLE GAME?! Oh my gosh, bro, I was sick to my stomach. Even in the second one, I probably played like 10 minutes. My mom had driven down, too. I felt like I had completely let her down.
But the third scrimmage was when everything changed. We hadn’t played well in our first two scrimmages, and Herk decided to make changes. He let me get my first start, and I played my butt off. I controlled the game, ran the offense, and we got the W. From that point on, I won the starting job.
Throughout the season, it wasn’t always good. I had some high and low moments, but I stayed the course. It’s hard to play in the Jayhawk as a freshman, bro. I struggled a lot, but I also had a few good games, and then the regional tournament happened.
I went nuts. Like absolute bonkers. I don’t know where the confidence came from, but whatever it was I needed it. Against Barton County, I finished with 17 and 4. Easy. But it was quiet, to be honest. I iced the game on a tough floater off of splitting the trap. Then there was Cowley. If you are a hooper, you get into these modes where everything is blocked out and you just go crazy. Well, I caught that feeling early in the game. I got going quick. Five treys and 20 points in the first half. I had 34 for the game. That ain’t the crazy part. The crazy part is I went 17-of-18 from the line, and the only free throw I missed was the first one. Yes, 17 straight. The championship game was against Butler. Bro, when I tell you my body was so tired. We battled legit until the last two seconds. Thank God for Meikkel Murray.
Winning that regional championship, I thought I was one-and-done at Coffeyville. But, I was written off once again that next month and a half. People don’t really get how painful it is when you’re chasing your dream, and somebody just keeps saying, “No, you are not allowed in this door.”
But no hope was lost. I was fine with coming back to the Ville for another year. I knew the work I was going to put in during the offseason. It was no longer a chip on my shoulder, it was more like an 18 wheeler I was carrying around. I wanted everybody’s neck. Everybody was going to be a victim at some point. And that’s exactly my mindset and what I did all year. From 11.8 points as a freshman to 18 points per game as a sophomore. I wasn’t messing around. From 41% from three to 51% from three. I mean, you do the math. Now, at the end of the year, I’m still a little pissed I didn’t win Player of the Year, but it’s all good. I’m chasing this national championship.
To anybody who reads this: no matter what you do in life, people WILL DOUBT you. They will count you out. They’ll choose not to believe in you. That IS OKAY! Trust and believe in yourself and God. What God has in store for you, no one, and I mean no one can, take that away from you. You have a story to tell just like I did. It is up to you whether you want to make it great or not. All it takes is work.