Tyler Morris, BSBA’10
Long shot? Not really.
On the night of May 31, in an overcrowded Romanian gym, the country’s two best basketball teams were tearing each other apart in an unflinching attempt to become the nation’s Division A League champion. With the score tied at 61 and just under five seconds remaining, BU graduate Tyler Morris (BSBA ’10) found the ball in his hands with three quarters of open court standing between him and a championship. He took two dribbles towards the basket and let it fly.
“I’ve taken enough half court shots to know when you’re close to making it. I knew this was about to go,” he said. “Then it banked in and it was mayhem after that. Unbelievable feeling.”
Tyler Morris’s road to Europe has been strewn with adversity, but he’s responded to each one with an inspirational resolution.
He began at Indianapolis’s Lawrence North High School, on a team that boasted Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr., two players selected in the 2007 NBA draft. No matter how hard he worked, there simply wasn’t enough playing time until his senior year.
“When he came into our program he wasn’t anything special,” Lawrence North basketball coach Jack Keefer said. “But he had a wonderful senior year playing with two future pros. He’d do anything he had to do to make the team come out ahead.”
Thanks to AAU exposure between his junior and senior year, Morris went from filling out extra questionnaires major colleges had addressed for teammates, to getting a near instantaneous offer from Travis Ford (now at Oklahoma State) and Eastern Kentucky. When Ford left for the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Morris decided to explore BU, a school that had shown interest the previous year. Within two weeks of being released from his commitment to EK, he signed his letter of intent in Boston. He entered the School of Management (SMG) as a finance major.
After averaging just 4.2 points per game as a high school senior, Tyler Morris was officially a Division I basketball player.
Limited Court Time, But Unlimited Desire.
His days as a Terrier were bittersweet. After injuring his ankle, he red-shirted his first year and went on to make All-Conference Second Team the next winter. He started 30 games that year, but would play only 44 for the remaining three years—a torn ACL midway through his junior year serving as the largest obstacle.
After graduating from SMG in 2010, Morris was uncertain of his future. A career in finance was an option—he interviewed for the Morgan Stanley fixed income division in Times Square and met with numerous consulting companies—but basketball felt like an incomplete chapter.
In December, Morris returned home to Indiana where he kept in shape playing pickup basketball, and after shopping his highlight tapes around, a friend connected him to an agent.
“[My agent] told me this team in Romania really liked me, but they were just curious about what kind of shape I was in,” Morris said. “They gave me a trial week and the rest is pretty much history.”
For the 2011-12 season Morris will again start at point guard for U Mobilteco, Romania’s defending champion. The team will play in France and Belgium, revealing Morris to new coaches and new levels of competition. With his prime another five or six years down the road, Morris’s future as a professional athlete holds major upside potential.
But his competitive nature is well balanced with pragmatism; he knows basketball can’t last forever. Once the enjoyment and suitable compensation dries up, he won’t hesitate in returning home and beginning his life’s next stage. One possibility is staying in the business of sports.
“I’ve talked with an investment bank in New York that specifically works with sports teams; that would be the best,” Morris said.
Running his own entrepreneurial enterprise or becoming a sports agent are other possibilities, but Morris says he’ll cross that bridge when he gets there.
“I could have taken a job, plugging those numbers, and probably advancing my career to the point where I can make a lot of money some day,” he said. “But I chased my dream all the way to Romania. I want to say I’ve lived my life with no regrets.”