There's a lot of talk about an Illinois high school basketball player named Tyra Buss. Buss attends Mount Carmel High School in Mount Carmel, Illinois, but the Aces actually compete against Indiana teams in the Indiana High Schoool Athletic Association. Buss is a multi-sport athlete, playing basketball, tennis, cross-country and track. She has signed her letter of intent with Indiana University and will be playing for the Hoosiers in the 2014-15 season.
Like many modern players, Buss has her own website, www.TyraBuss.com. You can learn about her exploits there, which include being named Miss Basketball of Illinois as a junior. There was another player who was named Miss Basketball as a junior that you might have heard of - Candace Parker. Among the players who have won Miss Basketball of Illinois are Candace Parker (3 x), Cappie Pondexter (2 x) and Tamika Catchings (1 x).
So what's so special about Tyra Buss and why is she getting so much attention? Let's look at her stats. The best place to get stats on any high school basketball player is MaxPreps, and this is exactly where we'll look.
Her Mount Carmel team is 25-4, so her team passes the 80 percent rule. However, the Mount Carmel Aces are only ranked #39 in the state by MaxPreps.
Buss is listed as a 5-7 point guard and shooting guard. She has 46.9 ppg and 3.6 apg. These are "bang-on-the-boxscore-until-it-cries-for-mercy" numbers. She does have an impressive 5.9 rebounds per game, not bad for such a small player, even if they might be defensive rebounds.
Let's look at her other stats:
2 pg field goals/FG attempted: 339/516 - 65.6 percent
3 pg field goals/FG attempted: 122/310 - 39.4 percent
Total FG percentage: 461/826 - 55.8 percent
Effective FG percentage: 63.2 percent
In effective FG percentage, 3 pt field goals are given a weighting of 1.5.
You can find clips of Tyra Buss playing on YouTube - nothing particularly long, and if you were scouting her you'd want to see at least half of a full game. There's a 13 minute clip of Buss playing that is quite impressive.
Note that her 3-point attempts aren't close to the line by any means. These are full four-feet-away-from-the-line heaves, easily WNBA or international distance.
Her FT percentage is 270-334 - 80.8 percent. She's definitely a threat at the line, but that's a lot of free throws. She's played 28 games (her game from Friday has not been entered) so that's 11.9 free throws made per game. That strikes me as being an Angel McCoughtry player - a kind of player who will drive to the basket, take the foul, and make the points on the free throw line. The percentage of free points made on free throws : 334/1314 = 25.4 percent isn't as high as McCoughtry's, but it should lead one to take notice.
"She's a slasher," Indiana head coach Curt Miller said. "She finds unique ways to score. She gets herself to the foul line. We call it the "Tyra Buss Foul Down" in Southern Illinois, that she's gets a lot of calls because she throws her body...she's a tremendous foul shooter - there are nights where she goes 14-14, 15-15. That all contributes to her being a great scorer."
Furthermore, she's absolutely unloading from 3-point land, attempting about 11.1 3-pointers per game. I doubt that Miller is going to give her that much of an opportunity to crank away behind the arc. Sacramento State as a team attempts 13.0 3-pointers pre game, and they lead the NCAA in 3-point attempts so her overall scoring is going to go way down.
What about her assists per turnover ratio? She has 100 assists vs. 64 turnovers for an A/TO of 1.56. That ratio won't put you in the Top 200 guards in the country. She does get 6.9 steals per game, which puts her at #37 in the country according to MaxPreps. It could be that she's overplaying players, but I didn't see much of that in the highlight real above. She clearly has some defensive skills.
So what do you do with her as a coach? When Buss signed with Indiana, she stated that "he definitely knows how to coach point guards", so this is probably the position she sees herself playing. That 1.56 A/TO ratio worries me. Do you really want her handling the ball as a point guard, when the players defending her will be taller and faster than those she's played against?
Arne Duncan's sweet pass to Skylar Diggins
U.S. Secretary of Education making a sweet over-the-shoulder pass to Tulsa Shock guard Skylar Diggins during the 2014 NBA All-Star Celebrity Game (via ESPN)
She's definitely an outside threat; that doesn't go away. But her stats indicate a drive-to-the-basket game, and if you make her a shooting guard how is she going to do in the Big Ten where she's routinely facing post players who are over six feet tall? Angel McCoughtry can play that kind of game because she's 6'1", but Buss is going to be giving up six inches to very tall players. Buss is listed as 120 pounds on her highlight video as a sophomore. Compare that to McCoughtry's 160 pounds. The weights of Indiana players are not listed, but even if Buss has bulked up over the last two years she appears rather slight. Can she handle getting banged up in the paint?
NCSA Sports gives the guidelines for position players, breaking them down into Tier 1, Tier 2, etc. This is their list of attributes of the typical Division One power conference point guard:
* 3.0 GPA (Buss has a 4.0 GPA at least for her first three years)
* 24 ACT
* 1000 SAT
4 years varsity experience (Yes)
* at least 5'8" (No)
* 10.0 ppg, 4 APG (46.7 ppg, 3.6 APG)
* Great passing skills (Question, as A/TO ratio is low)
* Abillity to knock down open shots from the perimeter (absolutely)
* Displays exceptional floor leadership
* Excellent court awareness
* Exceptional athleticism and lateral quickness
* Able to break defenders down off the dribble
* Great ball handling skills
I'll finish with what Bob Corwin had to say about Tyra Buss in August of 2013:
Buss is a somewhat controversial player as to her college potential -- the proponents who point to her near 40-point-per-game high school average plus a number of strong showings on the club circuit while others counter that her high school opposition is relatively weak plus that she mostly plays on a weaker club basketball circuit as opposed to the stronger Nike-affiliated loop. As in most cases, the truth lies somewhere in between. After watching Buss in this event, the position taken here is closer to the former than the latter. She runs very well with the ball and can score in a lot of different ways (drives, pull-ups and perimeter setters). She has very good vision on the break, putting the ball where it needs to go. She needs to strengthen her left-hand dribble and consistently finish on the left with her left hand. While her hands are quick for steals, she should also work to defend more diligently. Regardless, she should positively impact Indiana's program (school to which she has verbally committed) in her freshman year.
I tend to trust Bob Corwin's assessments. If he says that she'll positively impact Indiana, I believe it. I'll be looking forward to the 2014-15 season where we'll get a chance to see what Tyra Buss can do at the next level.
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