GMC Hoops Awards–Most Exciting Player to Watch

St. Joseph’s Battle and Tyree Brought Excitement in Different Ways

St. Joseph’s duo of Syracuse bound Tyus Battle and Mississippi bound Bree Tyree showed power, finesse, and athleticism to bring excitement to the floor this season. Both Falcons were recognized by GMC Hoops as the Co-Most Exciting Players to Watch in 2015-16.

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ–Over the last 20 years, St. Joseph’s has generated a number of players that have moved on to play NCAA Division I college basketball. Players such as Jay Williams, Brian Wilson, Greg Kuchinski, Preston Beverly, Calvin Cannon, Jonathan Dixon, Sean Baptiste, Kenny Widgeon, Andrew Bynum, Steve Rennard, Quenton DeCosey, Karl-Anthony Towns, Wade Baldwin, and Marques Townes have brought excitement and continued the tradition of winning at the school. This past season brought along two more names to add to that list: Tyus Battle and Bree Tyree, the co-GMC Hoops Most Exciting Players to Watch Award winners.

Both Battle and Tyree led the charge in the Falcons return to the top of the Greater Middlesex Conference in 2016. Both demonstrated a plethora of skills on the basketball court. Both illustrated showmanship with their thunderous dunks that time and time again brought the house down at St. Joseph’s Maglio Gymnasium. Both could take over a game on their own. However, each had a certain quality to their game that was a bit different. With Battle, there was power and fury while with Tyree, there was a smooth and sleek style. Tyree showed tremendous grace in his flight to the basket while Battle showed tremendous control in harnessing his power.

Battle could show finesse with a superb perimeter game. However, when he got the ball in the open court, Battle showed tremendous power and speed. Of all the players that I’ve seen play at St. Joseph’s over the years, Battle pushed the ball up the court like a bull charging through the streets of Pamplona. Anyone that dared to get in his way risked getting gored. The hard charging style of Battle also served as his springboard to the basket. Whether it was an awe inspiring dunk, or a flight to the rim for a laying, Battle was able to control and harness those powerful strides upcourt to score in a artistic and athletic way. Those qualities were on display in the Non-Public A South Semifinals against Notre Dame on March 8th.

Within a span of about two minutes, Battle and Tyree combined for three mind boggling dunks in dizzying fashion that turned the game on its head. Tyree started the dunkfest by getting a rebound in the Falcons backcourt, pushed the ball upcourt, and took off from just inside the foul line and threw down a two handed dunk that brought the house down. The only problem with that dunk was that it didn’t count because Tyree was called for charging. Battle then took over with back to back dunks at such a frenetic pace that it left you out of breath. The first dunk was the most powerful with Battle getting his hands on the ball in the St. Joseph’s backcourt and rushing upcourt to throw down a two handed jam.

Moments later, Battle get the ball again on the opposite side of the court, and attacking the rim for a one handed slam from the right side. Battle then showed more of his power and speed with a series of transition layins in the second half that made you think that he was going at hyper speed. Nevertheless, Battle still possessed the body control to curtail his momentum toward the hoop just enough to score those baskets. Tyree has the ability to show power and force on his dunks. In the previous round against St. John Vianney, Tyree threw down a thunderous one handed slam that not only depicted his smooth, sleek, and gravity defying athleticism, but also showed power and rage.

Tyree had a number of dunks like that over his three years with the Falcons. Two of them were against East Brunswick in a game played on January 7th at Maglio Gymnasium. Early in the game, Tyree set the tone with a drive down the right lane for a dunk similar to the one against Vianney. One of the more amazing dunks from Tyree was the one in the waning moments of the 2015 Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament against Colonia. After having to go to the bench in the third quarter after re-aggravating an ankle injury suffered some two weeks earlier versus Union Catholic in the Metro Classic at Kean University, Tyree returned to the game to go into orbit for a rim rocking one handed jam that left the crowd at the RAC in awe. It seemed that he jumped off a springboard to get so high in the air.

At the 2016 NJSCA North-South Senior All-Star Game, Tyree competed in the Slam Dunk Competition, and although he finished second due to an injury he suffered in the tiebreaker round, he stole the show with a dunk that was the essence of his gravity defying athletic ability. He took out a rack of basketballs, went back to about mid court on the side opposite of the scorer’s table, dribbled toward the basket, and soared over the rack for a one handed slam. Tyree’s dunks were not only awe inspiring, but also ones that often delivered a knockout blow to the opponent. For example, on opening night of the 2014-15 season, Tyree opened the second half against South Brunswick by dribbling the ball and waiting for the slightest opening before attacking the rim and soaring for a one handed slam. The Vikings were unable to recover after that.

Both Tyus Battle and Bree Tyree demonstrated great skill and athletic ability on the basketball court for St. Joseph’s this past season. Battle showed tremendous power and speed, especially in the open court while Tyree demonstrated a smooth, sleek, gravity defying athleticism. Both showed these talents most prominently in their highlight reel dunks. Despite these differences, Battle and Tyree combined to put St. Joseph’s back to the top of the heap in the GMC, and in the NJSIAA Non-Public A South Championship for the fourth time in five years. The duo also brought a lot of excitement to the basketball courts around Middlesex County. As a result, GMC Hoops recognizes both of these young men as the Most Exciting Players to Watch in the GMC in 2015-16.