Mr. Basketball in the making: How Tyler Jamison became one of Michigan’s best
As Brian and Anna Jamison watched their 4-year-old son’s response to losing a basketball game at the local YMCA, they quickly learned he had unmatched passion for the sport.
“He never has liked to lose. He was just kicking and crying, so upset. We had to pick him up and remove him from the gym, and I mean, this was YMCA bitty ball,” Anna said. “Another parent said, ‘Oh isn’t it great that he cares so much?’”
Anna said that was the first foreshadowing of their son’s competitive nature, and while he may no longer kick and scream after a loss, he doesn’t hate it any less.
Fortunately, however, it didn’t happen too often.
Port Huron Northern senior Tyler Jamison finished his monumental career on Monday with the greatest honor a high school basketball player can receive: the Hal Schram Mr. Basketball award.
Many of the previous 42 Mr. Basketball recipients have gone on to play at major Division I colleges and even in the NBA as first-round picks. Tyler now joins them as he’ll be playing at Fairleigh Dickinson University next season.
Over the last four years, Tyler led the Huskies to a 59-21 record with three league titles while averaging 23.2 points and 10.9 rebounds per game.
Along the way, he plastered his name across the program’s record books: career points (1763), career rebounds (825), points in a game (59), rebounds in a game (28), free throws made (439), and more.
“Every record is going to be broken eventually, and I’m glad it was Tyler,” said Joel Whymer, 2003 Northern grad who previously held the career points record. “I played high school basketball with Scott, Tyler’s Uncle, and then we played together in college at Lake State…and we’ve probably played in 20 or 30 Gus Mackers together.”
And it was at one of those Gus Macker tournaments when Whymer realized his record was in jeopardy.
“Tyler was probably in fourth to sixth grade, playing and winning Mackers. I knew when he was that little he was going to break my career points record,” Whymer said. “The only one I thought I had a chance with keeping was the season points, but he destroyed that one too.
“He’s remarkable. He’s so gifted, he’s big, he’s strong, he’s smart. He has a relentless, competitive spirit, he couldn’t be stopped…That’s why he won Mr. Basketball.”
Of course Tyler’s put in countless hours honing his skills and getting stronger during the offseason, but if you ask Brian, he’s been unstoppable from the beginning.
“When Tyler was younger, he wore goggles and he’d get bloody noses in about half the games he played. He’d ram Kleenex up his nose and go back out and play,” he said. “It’s a funny image of him with paper stuffed up his nose and goggles and going all out. He’s been like that since he was a little kid.”
His AAU assistant coach even called him "Psycho T" after Tyler Hansbrough, an All-American basketball player at North Carolina. And while he might’ve been more controlled as a high schooler, his relentless effort never slowed.
“I always have blood supplies ready for Tyler. If it’s not his blood on his jersey, it was his blood on his teammates’ jerseys,” Northern athletic trainer Brooke Petho said. “It got to the point where when someone came off the court, I’d ask, ‘Is this your blood or Tyler’s?’ and 90% of the time it was Tyler’s.”
Petho said she’s known Tyler since he was in elementary school as she babysat him and his younger brother Alex. The three would often play basketball in the kitchen or hockey in the living room.
“It was very intense. They were always going for the win,” she said. “I got destroyed in a couple sports in their house.”
Alex was a freshman on this year’s roster, a highlight for Anna as she got to watch her sons play together.
“His first game playing with Alex was super special…Seeing them get along and be in sync with each other, that was an amazing thing to watch,” she said. “To see him mentor the younger players on the team and be a leader…that was very cool.”
Leading a team is something Tyler's been ready for since kindergarten as he would sit alongside his dad, who's also the varsity coach at Northern, drawing plays in a special notebook.
"I’m not sure he had all his letters down yet and he was already diagramming plays," Brian said.
And while they might not have used Tyler's "gibberish" plays, as Brian called them, he still came through in big moments for his team.
“The whole year, being able to share the court with him and be with those guys every day...it was defintiely a year to remember,” Alex said. “In big games and packed gyms, Tyler’s composure and character especially during crunch time definitely taught me to be a better player and react well in different environments.”
Like his 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 65-62 win over Ann Arbor Skyline back in December or his 32-point performance to edge Hamtramck 70-69.
Between nail biters, blowouts, and major winning streaks, the Huskies gave Blue Water Area fans a lot to cheer for this season. And for Tyler, the community behind him made the award all the more meaningful.
“We have the best fans ever in the state. The support they’ve given us…is something that's definitely motivated us and made us feel like rockstars," Tyler said in his acceptance speech. "None of this would been possible without them either."
And there's no doubt fans will be watching him as he continues his career at FDU in a few months.
"He’s definitely deserving. I think five or six years from now, no one’s going to look back and say, ‘Oh, I can’t believe Tyler Jamison won,'" Whymer said. "He’s going to have a great college career. He’s a great representation of the best player in the state of Michigan, and he will be moving forward too."
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