Photos By Hillary Ehlen
Tyree Eady is not the most vocal player on North Dakota State’s men’s basketball team. With guys like Vinnie Shahid and Tyson Ward on the roster alongside Eady, he doesn’t need to be too talkative. The sophomore is more inclined to let his game do the talking when he sets foot on the floor. In his short time on campus, he is already one of Dave Richman’s most dangerous weapons on both ends.
However, for how quiet he is on and off the court, Eady seems to be wise beyond his years. That’s usually how it goes with any human: the less talkative they are, the more noble and wise they are. Eady may not say much, but when he does speak, it comes with a great amount of depth and no shortage of pithy one-liners.
In that sense, perhaps Tyree Eady the human goes hand-in-hand with Tyree Eady, the basketball player.
Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing in at 215 pounds, Eady possesses a near-perfect basketball frame. Couple that with an offensive skill set that features a dead-eye jumper and the ability to muscle defenders down low and you have a recipe for success. Eady was a standout for Middleton High School in Wisconsin, scoring 1,248 points in three seasons. He was named to the All-State team as a senior as well.
Taking a redshirt year in 2017-18, Eady used that season to develop the frame you see now. Regarded as one of the strongest players on the roster, the sophomore has used that to his advantage as time has gone on. Strength is not the only thing Eady has improved upon at NDSU either, he says his basketball IQ has grown immensely.
“I definitely have more confidence and my IQ towards the game. When you come from high school, you think you know a lot about the game, but you really don’t. When you come to college, you learn more about defensive tendencies, how to scout for people, where to be at a certain time and stuff like that,” Eady said. “Also, confidence and being able to play with the best of the best. We do play the best of the best at NDSU, every day you have to bring your best.”
That showed on the floor last season where Eady was one of NDSU’s breakout stars. He averaged six points a game including eight games where he scored in double figures. While he provided a valuable scoring threat off the bench, it was Eady’s efficiency in 2018-19 that was most impressive. He shot an unreal 49 percent from the field last year along with 41 and 91 percent clips from long range and the charity stripe.
Eady’s versatility, thanks in large part to his frame and skill, were also on full display last season and continue to be a focus point for the sophomore.
“When I get on the court, I want to be versatile because when you’re versatile, it’s hard to take you off the court. You can guard one through five and play one through five,” Eady said. “I was always told that was the best way to be an all-around player and my goal is to be an all-around player. I want to rebound, defend, make shots, come off-ball screens, pass and I want to be that all-around player. I want to do whatever it takes for my team to win.”
While the casual fan may not notice how important Eady is to NDSU’s success, he almost prefers it that way. He has never been the type of player to seek out attention. Instead, he quietly goes about his business and flies under the radar.
“I’ve never really been the type of person that really wanted that limelight or the spotlight. I kind of keep to myself and stay even keel, but I feel like my game speaks for itself,” he said. “I fit in well a lot with others and I feel like my game is really good in my own way.”
That is a mindset the entire NDSU men’s team has adopted. Last season, the Bison shocked many in the Summit League by winning the conference tournament and taking the conference’s auto-bid to the NCAA Tournament. Following a 2-7 start to the season, Eady and the Bison knew everyone was writing them off.
“Coach always tells us to work in the dark and let our game shine for itself. Last year we did that. We were 2-7, but we kept on working and eventually we were Summit League champions,” he said. “To embrace that role as a team and work our hardest in the dark, we hope our game shines through.”
Fast forward to this season, where the narrative has changed. North Dakota State was picked to win the conference in the preseason. The storyline surrounding this team is now “how far can they go?” rather than “will they even compete in the Summit League?”. Eady says the team’s mindset has yet to change and probably won’t be altered anytime soon.
“Personally, it’s all about staying with my teammates and staying humble. Bigger expectations lead to bigger heads, but I think all of us really have a goal in mind and that is to repeat and do more things in the tournament,” he said. “We’re focused on that and working hard to get there and not the outside noise. We know what we need to do to win and that we have the ability to win against really good teams. It’s just about putting those pieces together and putting the product out there.”
So far, Eady is averaging nearly seven points per game in 2019-20. He has continued his habit of efficiency as well, shooting 41 percent from the floor through 10 games. While the season is still quite young and the Bison have plenty of room for growth, Eady already knows where he wants to see himself improve.
“I definitely want to be a more all-around as a player. Last year, I shot a lot of threes and was more of a spot-up guy. I feel like this year, I’m able to do a lot more in guarding one through five, rebounding more and being a more fluid passer,” Eady said. “It’s also about being a winner and making winning plays. That’s diving on the floor, getting a rebound, closing out and making a big stop. I just want to be a guy that makes winning plays.”
It’s hard to deny that Tyree Eady is already making winning plays for North Dakota State on a nightly basis. Yet, there is more to Eady than meets the eye, both on the floor and off it. Thanks to his demeanor and hushed nature, he has become a bit of a mysterious figure to many.
However, when you do get him talking, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how intelligent and succinct Eady is with his words. The same can be said about Tyree Eady as a basketball player. It is with those qualities that the sophomore is becoming a silent weapon for Bison men’s basketball.