Photos By Nolan P. Schmidt
Head men’s basketball coach Dave Richman always talks about leaving a legacy. For his players, that means being as great of a person as you are a player on the basketball floor. As it’s said in various forms across campus, it’s about leaving your program better than you found it.
Tyree Eady and Rocky Kreuser take that legacy discussion to heart. Already two of the top players in the Summit League, Eady and Kreuser’s relationship stretches back before their NDSU days. They took their official visit together, immediately became friends and grew that friendship leading up to their freshmen seasons. The two are best friends today thanks to their commonalities. As Eady states, the pair are the same person, just in different bodies.
That has led them to success on the floor, but better people off of it. Eady and Kreuser helped spearhead NDSU basketball’s “Walk With Us” initiative which raised over $2,000 for the Boys & Girls Club of the Red River Valley. The initiative featured custom-made shirts and a video to help combat racial injustice in our community and beyond.
It is actions like this that will define the careers of the two best friends. We discussed that and more with Eady and Kreuser.
Origins Of A Friendship
Rocky Kreuser: We scheduled our official visits with Jordan Meidinger at the same time. I actually had a football game on Friday night, so I didn’t get up here until Saturday morning. That is when
I really got to be with the guys and stuff. On the official visit, Tyree and I hung out pretty much throughout the entire thing with Jordan Meidinger. Tyree gave me his Snapchat and we started snapping each other. The main thing I remember about the whole situation was Tyree’s Snapchat name was ‘LilUziTurnt’, instead of like Tyree Eady.
Tyree Eady: As Rocky said, we visited here together with Jordan Meidinger. Rocky was not here the first night so I really didn’t know what to expect. This was my first time in Fargo, North Dakota, and I had no idea where that was before they started recruiting me. When I committed here, Rocky and Jordan had already committed. That is a big part of the reason why I came to NDSU because it made me feel comfortable because I had a friend to come here with. I knew I could really bond with him and relate with him. It’s a big reason why I’m here right now.
RK: It was kind of weird because I don’t think there was one thing, in particular, that kind of made us click. It was kind of just a mesh of everything. We have similar interests in pretty much everything in life. Off the court, we just get along with each other because our personalities mesh really well. It wasn’t one thing in particular that made us some of the of best friends, but it was a combination of everything.
TE: If you ask anyone around here, they’ll say that we’re pretty much the same person just in different bodies. We naturally gelled when we first met and it naturally came about that we were meant to be friends. We’ve been roommates ever since, we’ve grown together and we’ve seen each other change in multiple ways.
NDSU’s Role In Friendship
RK: There are a lot of people I’ve met here that I know I would never have met if I didn’t come to play basketball here in Fargo. I think it’s just an incredible opportunity to look at it and go back and realize that Tyree wouldn’t even be in my life if it wasn’t for having the opportunity to play basketball here. I’m super grateful for it.
TE: He was a big part of the college environment itself. It’s just a bunch of people together that came from different backgrounds. If you would have told me that my best friend would be from small-town Minnesota five years ago, I would never believe you. Now, we get to go out there and compete in something that we both love. Basketball and time have just naturally grown that friendship and relationship we have. NDSU has everything to do with that because they brought us together and put us in that one space.
Growing As Friends
RK: Ever since that official visit when we first really met each other, it’s grown since then. Friendships build up over time and I don’t think there was one scene where everything just changed. I think we just got more and more comfortable with each other.
TE: Since we first met, we always had similar interests and have always liked each other, Rooming with someone will really show you who people really are and we’ve grown in that way. I’ve grown up in the past four years and I know Rocky has too. It’s just constant growth and constantly building up trust.
RK: Accomplishments mean so much more when you do it with people you love. To be able to go play in March and things like that are amazing. It’s not even just the highs that are amazing when you’re with people you love, but it’s the lows too. It’s being able to lean on someone’s shoulder when times get tough. To know that you have someone there for you even when the lows hit like last year when the NCAA Tournament got canceled. I knew we were gonna be okay because Tyree was there, everyone else on the team was there for each other. I can’t thank Tyree enough for that.
TE: You can’t really put a value on memories and moments like the ones we’ve had. They don’t come by very often. We talk about all the past experiences we have had together and we don’t realize the scope of it at the time. As Rocky said it’s not just the highs, but the lows too. Even things like a 5 a.m. runs where everyone’s about to die, but then we talk about it later and laugh on it. You can see that we’ve built that culture and it comes through in the way we play. We love each other, we argue, but we still get through it. We play tough and you can really tell we’ve been together for a long time. We love each other.
Friendship In The Of Adversity
RK: It’s been obviously this roller coaster over the past year with the pandemic and all the social injustices and everything. There’s definitely been some real low moments. Knowing that there’s someone in your corner there ready to go to battle for you, it gives you the confidence to really get through things. When we went home for quarantine and we weren’t around the guys, we had to do what we had to do to stay in touch as much as possible. When we got to come back here, it was one of the biggest hugs I think I’ve ever given when Tyree and I came back. It’s just things like that where you know you’re gonna get through it because you have those people in your corner.
TE: Rocky has seen me at some of my lowest times outside of basketball. When you go through tough times, it just breeds a certain amount of respect and confidence. As Rocky said, just knowing that someone’s in your corner fighting for you is everything. I mean, if stuff happens in my life, he is one of the first people that I’ll call. So during quarantine, you’re not seeing him and the guys, that’s really tough on us. When we came back, it was those relationships that really helped us get by.
RK: I think the key phrase is that we are feeling blessed. What we’re given here is an incredible opportunity. People are risking their lives trying to help people with the Coronavirus and through this pandemic, we’re out here playing the game of basketball. We should feel blessed with the opportunity to be able to do that. We should feel blessed to be able to go out and hang out with our teammates and share those moments. A lot of people can’t do that right now. They can’t go see their friends or family members that are stuck in nursing homes, for example. I think that’s the best way to look at it. We should be grateful for every opportunity we have because other people in this world aren’t getting those opportunities that we are right now.
TE: You hit it right on the head, I think. This past year with the pandemic, social justice issues and stuff going on in the world has been really humbling. We have really been brought back down to earth and are realizing what’s really important. At the end of the day, we play basketball, but there’s stuff in this world that really matters. Being thankful for all the little things like having a conversation face to face with a friend or FaceTime or even doing things you don’t want to do, but you have the ability to do it. Some people don’t have the ability to go out there and do what they want to do right now. We cannot take anything for granted right now and I really take pride in just be able to do those little things.
Social Justice Initiative
TE: During the pandemic and the George Floyd incident, coach [Dave] Richman called me and he was really impacted by that and really wanted to do something to shed light on the issue. He called me and a few other teammates together to just brainstorm some ideas and things we could do. We wanted to use our voice and platform for a bigger meaning. Rocky, Jarius [Cook], Jaxon [Knotek] and coach [Joshua] Jones came together and decided that making a shirt that everyone would see would be the best plan of action. We would also be making a video using the platform that we have here.
As I said, we play basketball during the day, but these are issues that really matter. So we settled on the shirt, we designed it, we got it through compliance and we made the video. The final product was when the video showed to a near-packed house, people were wearing the shirts. It was great to see people in the community rally behind it and give so much positive feedback. I’m just grateful that it turned out the way it turned out. The feedback we got was just so positive. It just shows that people really want to make a change.
RK: Tyree and the other guys involved did an absolutely incredible job setting up the shirt and then making that video. It was an incredible way to show our fans that we’re trying to make a difference. It all culminated when we got to present a check for over $2,000 to a local charity. I think that’s what really matters. There is a huge difference between just sitting back and saying you want to do something and really taking a step and putting it into action. We did that by raising that money and it was an incredible feeling being able to hand over that check.
Positive Feedback On The Initiative
TE: It was definitely a concern at first about the feedback we would get from it. There were also certain rules and stipulations we had to adhere to. At the end of the day, it’s about trusting your gut. This was the plan of action that we decided was best for us, and the best use of our platform. for. We kept the whole thing in-house which made it special too. At the end of the day, if everyone on your team agrees with it, that is all that matters. The feedback within the community was almost entirely positive too. For me, our team was all good with it and that’s all that matters.
RK: I think it’s pretty cool to go around the entire athletics department and see other teams doing the same thing that we’re doing. Then you walk around after games and you see people wearing the shirts that we had on sale. It reached out to a degree that I don’t think we anticipated. It turned out better than we thought, which is something that I’m very happy with. There are definitely people on both sides of the whole situation, but I’m really glad that people stood with us throughout the entire thing.
Leaving A Legacy
TE: I think coach Richman always says it perfectly. We get recruited here not only for our basketball skills but for the people that we are. Being able to do this initiative and have it work out the way it did is amazing. We want to be remembered for this as well as what we do on the court. We all wanted to come here and make an impact to change the program for the better. We always say ‘leave it better than you found it’s and I think part of this is just leaving this place better than we found it. Hopefully, that continues to build more and more once we leave.
RK: One of the goals of our program is to win games and win championships. It’s also a goal to be developed as an employee, employer, a man, a father and a husband, you know? Throughout my four years here, we’ve really developed ourselves and it’s just incredible to see what we’ve been able to do when we really take an action step. Our job isn’t over once we leave here either. We have underclassmen and hopefully, they live on to build the legacy further.
TE: I have a lot of areas to grow on the court for sure. Off the court and in life in general, I want to be a better leader and a better people person. I really haven’t seen or experienced that
in college basketball. It’s been an eye-opening experience being responsible for some people that you realize look up to you. There are guys that look to you for guidance. I definitely want to grow in that and become a person that people can rally around.
RK: There are things on the court that both of us can get better at. I think the main takeaway from everything here and what I want to grow in mostly are things off the court. I want to become a better listener, become a better friend and things like that. Those are the things that will truly impact your life for years to come. Obviously, the memories and time on the court are precious and should be treated as such, but being able to grow off the court will impact us for years to come.