Former Ole Miss basketball guard Breein Tyree had one of the best careers on the hardwood in program history and earned the opportunity to compete at the 2020 NBA Draft Combine. When the Association released its list of 105 invitees on Monday, Tyree was amongst the top vote-getters and will join the showcase at a date to be announced.
As the invite indicates, his heralded career not only turned heads from the Rebel faithful and fans around the SEC, but garnered attention from NBA scouts and front offices.
Tyree was recruit to Oxford by the program’s all-time winningest coach Andy Kennedy as a top 100 national player averaging 16.2 points and 4.5 assists per game as a senior at St Joseph’s High School in New Jersey. The Somerset native, and cousin of New York Giants legend David Tyree, chose Ole Miss over Kansas State, USC and UMass. When he wasn’t hitting step-backs, he was throwing down hammers and ending careers.
When he got to campus, Tyree made an immediate impact. His numbers didn’t drop jaws (yet), but the freshman point guard played in 34 games with 23 starts and averaged 7.3 points in 19.1 minutes per game, good for fifth on the team in scoring. It was instantly clear that he was a difference maker as a down-and-dirty grinder with great handles, a nice touch as a shooter and some serious strength at the rim. Slamming on opponents in high school is one thing, being able to go up and jam in the SEC is another. It was no issue for Tyree.
Let’s take another look. Remember, he was only a freshman.
Here's that Breein Tyree poster from my vantage point. pic.twitter.com/eZ1YmoYmPB— Robby Donoho III (@RobbyDonoho) February 22, 2017
Sophomore year rolled around and Tyree’s role as a point guard remained the same. He was a smart, patient and saw his stats increase to 10.8 points per game in the same number of starts as the year prior and increased that number to 12.3 points per game in conference play. While his scoring total fluctuated, the shot selection remained consistent and intelligent. Tyree knocked down 39.4 percent of his shots from the floor and 35.6 from beyond the arc. After a strong second season, he averaged 16.5 points per game over the final six games of the season. Breein Tyree had arrived.
Breein Tyree said he was going to be more aggressive against Missouri than he's been all season. He's taken 10 more shots than the next-closest Rebel and leads #OleMiss with 25 points. His game-tying floater to send it to overtime. pic.twitter.com/ldGzNfNO36— Ben Garrett (@SpiritBen) February 21, 2018
Tyree’s third year saw the team’s most success in 2018-2019. The junior guard was playing alongside rising NBA superstar Terence Davis and the Rebels finished with a 20-13 record. First-year, SEC Coach of the Year, Kermit Davis was at the helm and his squad reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015.
Davis, the last Ole Miss player to receive an NBA Combine invite, went undrafted at the end of that season. For Davis, however, the process to receiving an invitation was different. The Southaven, Miss. native was not initially invited, but worked his way into the event by making the Portsmouth Invitational All-Tournament team and competing in the G League Elite Camp. When he arrived in Chicago, Davis scored a combine-high 19 points on Day 2 of the scrimmages, but still did not hear his name called come draft day. After balling out with the Nuggets in Summer League play, the Toronto Raptors signed him to a two-year deal in July. Ever since, he has put the league on notice.
Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, Tyree was unable to participate in either pre-combine workout event. It didn’t matter, his career at Ole Miss was enough.
He was named a First Team All-SEC by the conference’s coaches after his junior season and led the team in scoring with 17.9 points per game and 19.1 in SEC games. He added 2.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists and a steal to his line as a starter in all 33 games. More impressively, he was lights out. Tyree shot 45.9 percent from the field, 37.5 percent from three and 83.1 percent from the free throw line. Ice cold.
All the while, he was still throwing down haymakers.
When Davis left for the NBA, Tyree took over as the spotlight star. For the 2019-2020 Ole Miss team, when he was on, the team was on. When he was scoring, the team was scoring. Possessions lived and died with Tyree, and no matter how many defenders the opponents put on him, it didn’t matter— he was scoring. A lot.
He was again named First Team All-SEC by the conference’s coaches after again leading the team in scoring with 19.7 points per game and was robbed of the conference player of the year title. He finished second in the SEC in the points per game category, but only did so because his successor was injured midway through the year and finished on top. So, really, Tyree led the conference in scoring.
He showed all year long why he deserves an opportunity to play in the NBA. Look at how hard he dribbles down court and turns on the jets and then just as quickly comes to a complete stop with complete control of his body and knocks down the jumper. That’s hard to find on any level.
Tyree is a high-IQ pure scorer with great handles, quick feet, phenomenal body control and significant strength for someone of his size. However, he is a project player in terms of refinement. At 6-foot-2, 195 pounds soaking wet, he is slightly undersized for a player of his style and could use some work as a defender.
He will have the opportunity to display his talent at the combine, should it happen. In addition, the Association holds the right to limit the list of participants down to 70 as a precaution, so the spot may be subject to being cut. With that in mind, Tyree was such a baller at Ole Miss, it can be assumed that NBA front offices would like to get another look.
Should a team be looking for a diamond in the rough that could play at the point or off the bench as a shooting guard in a scoring lineup, Breein Tyree is the guy.