A native of Connecticut, Tyler Betsey quickly rose up the state rankings as one of the best local products in the class of 2024. However, upon joining the New York Renaissance AAU program, Betsey has now emerged as a prospect to be aware of on a national scale. Standing at 6’8” with a 7’0” wingspan in conjunction with his two-way ability, it’s no secret why he’s a highly sought-after recruit by numerous high major college programs. With his recent transfer to St. Thomas More (CT), Betsey is eager to continue the winning culture of the program in addition to proving to others that he’s a player to be reckoned with.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Betsey discusses his basketball journey, how he grew as a player this summer, his decision to transfer to St. Thomas More, his recruitment update, his off-court interests, and much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2024 prospect Tyler Betsey, from Windsor, Connecticut:
Pro Insight: Talk about your basketball journey — how did you get to where you are today?
Tyler Betsey: I’m from Windsor, Connecticut, it’s a small town. I started playing basketball when I was in fifth grade — that’s when I started taking it seriously and when I started playing with my first team. I wasn’t that good but I started getting good around my freshman year. During COVID-19 I had a big growth spurt and that led to me becoming a better player. And as I got better, that made me want to work harder so I could continue to get better.
PI: Did you play other sports growing up or has basketball always been your main thing?
TB: I played football and it was when you were little, basketball you have to be skilled, but football when you’re little you just run around and tackle people. It’s just fun. As I got older and taller I eventually switched to basketball full time.
PI: Talk about your growth spurt — how tall were you and how much did you grow during COVID-19?
TB: When quarantine started I was around 6’0”- 6’1” tall and a few months in I grew to 6’4”. A few months later I was 6’6” and now I’m 6’8”. Quarantine is when I really changed.
PI: What was that adjustment like?
TB: It was different, I didn’t notice I was getting taller until I went to go workout with one of my cousins. He was way taller than me and then I just kept growing and I noticed I got taller than him during the span we were working out. It was a little bit of an adjustment getting used to my body, but it wasn’t anything crazy. There was a time span where I couldn’t play games because I had super bad knee pains so I’d say that was the biggest adjustment, I had bad growing pains.
PI: Were you a PG prior to the growth spurt?
TB: I’m not going to say I was a PG because I was still taller than most. I was 6’0” tall in 8th grade. That’s not the tallest but there’s not a lot of 6’0” 8th graders, so I wasn’t a PG. I was a two-guard, but right now I’d say I’m like a small forward, but for the next level I want to become a shooting guard. Now I’m not really a shooting guard or small forward, I’m just a wing, so I would say that’s my position.
PI: What are your current measurements?
TB: I’m 6’8”, my wingspan is around 7’0” and I weigh around 195-200 pounds.
PI: Where does your size come from?
TB: My mom is 5’8” and my dad is 6’8”. I have tall parents.
PI: Did your parents or other family members also play sports?
TB: My dad didn’t play and no one in my immediate family plays sports. Most of my [extended] family lives down south and I have a cousin from South Carolina who went to Clemson for football. But nobody else I’m close to is really good at sports or took it seriously.
PI: So you’d be the first collegiate athlete in your family?
PI: Talk about the basketball culture in Connecticut.
TB: I play on the NY Renaissance [AAU] and we have people from New York, Philly, etc. and it’s easy to tell the difference as to why those states are so good at basketball because when you have so many good players that have played against each other since they were younger, you have no choice but to get better if you were playing against them. In Connecticut there’s good basketball, but the overall majority of basketball is not that good. The culture is getting better, my 2024 class is actually a very strong class and we have a lot of people who go out of state to play on EYBL or UA teams. It’s picking up, but it’s nothing like New York or New Jersey where every class is stacked. 2024 is the start of good basketball in Connecticut.
PI: Describe your game — what are some of your greatest strengths?
TB: My biggest strength is shooting the ball and I can also guard a lot of positions. I’d say point guard-through-power forward. If there’s a big post player that’s when it gets tricky, but one-through-four, I’m good. I can shoot the ball, I’m a good teammate and I’m coachable. Those are the main things.
PI: What about some improvement areas?
TB: The biggest thing for me is making plays off the bounce. I have a high major recruitment right now, but once I start making plays off the bounce that’s when I think my game will go to another level.
PI: What are you doing to improve your handle?
TB: I have two major people that I work with to help improve my dribbling skills. One is a basketball player from Connecticut named Mustapha Heron, he was a five star and is from Waterbury. So his dad is who I went to when I was younger to learn all of the fundamentals of basketball. That’s who I work with and he’s the main guy who helps me.
PI: What would you say is an underrated aspect of your game?
TB: My passing. I can actually pass the ball really well but to show that I’ll need to start dribbling the ball to make plays. You can see it in spurts in certain situations.
PI: Are you more unselfish by nature?
TB: Yeah a little bit. I’m getting better at being more aggressive, but I pass a lot. Now I’m shooting better shots, good shots.
PI: Talk about your summer with the Rens — how was it?
TB: Session I [EYBL] was a rough session for me. I didn’t play that well, I didn’t shoot the ball, etc. It was a confidence issue I think. Session I was a bad session. Session II I played well, I got an offer from Iona which helped me build confidence for the rest of the summer. Then the rest of the summer I had a good summer. I started out rough, but finished out super strong.
PI: What clicked during Session II that gave you extra confidence?
TB: My coach literally said to me, “if you don’t shoot the ball, you’re not going to play” so I shot the ball. When my coach said that I had no choice but to shoot the ball. And when I started shooting they started going in and it gave me confidence for the whole summer and that confidence is going to stick with me everywhere I go.
PI: Did you get quite a bit more attention after Peach Jam?
TB: Yeah it’s been crazy, after Peach Jam quite a few new schools hit me up. And after the games I got a lot of interviews from Rivals, 247, etc. so it really picked up.
PI: Is the newfound attention something you always wanted or expected at some point?
TB: I would say it’s kind of like a dream to me. When I started playing basketball in fifth grade I used to watch the famous high school players like Sharife Cooper and it was almost like a fantasy to be a heavy high major recruit, take DI offers, take visits, take pictures at visits, etc. Now that it’s reality it’s still unreal, but it’s becoming more and more of a reality.
PI: Anybody you played against this summer who impressed you or gave you problems?
TB: John Mobley [Vegas Elite]. I’m pretty long and in Section IV I played against Jamari Phillips [Paul George Elite] and I had a really good defensive game on him so after that every time we played a good high level guard I had to guard him the whole game, pick him up 94 feet, make sure he doesn’t touch the ball, etc. So I did that really well the first two games, then we played John Mobley and Vegas Elite the third game and he’s a tough guard because he doesn’t stop moving off the ball and he can shoot from deep so he was a really tough guard for me.
PI: You’re unranked on the major sites — how much does that matter to you?
TB: I don’t really think about ranking that much. I play on a high-level team with the New York Rens, so in practice you’re competing with guys like Dylan Harper and Dwayne [Pierce], that are ranked. So if I’m competing with them, that shows me where I’m at, so I don’t think I really need a ranking to show me how good I am. Getting ranked would be nice, but it’s not the biggest deal ever to me.
PI: How did competing against guys like Dylan Harper, Dwayne Pierce, etc. help shape your game?
TB: We had a week of practice before Session IV, and Naas Cunningham plays 17U and he came to practice to workout. We were playing one-on-one and live games. When you do well against those guys, Naas is the top player in the country, it’s challenging but it gives you confidence as well. If I can compete with them then I can compete with anyone in the country.
PI: Talk a bit more about the evolution of your confidence.
TB: It would change, like in Connecticut I’m full of confidence, but when I would go practice or play with the Rens my confidence would waiver. I had a really good high school season and I was confident in every game I played, I was All-State, etc. But when I went to the Rens I didn’t have as much confidence, so I would say it was changing based on where I was at. But now that I’ve performed on the EYBL circuit that tells me I can perform anywhere and that gives me the utmost confidence.
PI: You’ve been with the Rens for the past few years — how have they helped you on and off the court?
TB: There’s not like a high-level team in Connecticut to play with, so going to play with the Rens helps me play against high-level guys in practice and against other teams. Playing on the EYBL circuit, you’re playing against the best players in the country. It really shows me that I’m one of the top guys in the country and it takes me to places I’ve never been. Like I haven’t been to Kansas City, Indiana, etc. It also allows me to make lifelong friends with my teammates. You spend a lot of time with those guys, more time off the court than on the court. So you really get to make connections with people that you would never meet if you didn’t play on that team.
PI: Who’s the goofiest guy on the team?
TB: The goofiest guy on the team is probably [Qingfang] Pang, he’s from China and he speaks a good amount of English, but not that much. He teaches us a bunch of Mandarin words and he’s really like a goofball type of person.
PI: What are some of your goals for this upcoming high school season?
TB: One of my goals is to make the NEPSAC first team or honorable mention. NEPSAC is usually post-grad to older guys, but it’s becoming an undergrad league with a lot of good players in it. So my main goal is to make an immediate impact and win a lot of games because Coach Jere Quinn, he’s a legend and a Hall of Famer with over 1,000 wins so he knows what he’s doing. That was a big part of my decision. I just want to go in, compete, get better every day and come out a better player that I went in as.
PI: What led to the decision to transfer to St. Thomas More?
TB: It’s local, I would be okay with going anywhere in the country if it’s the right spot, but it’s literally 40 mins away from my house and it had everything I was looking for. I was looking for a more competitive league and the NEPSAC AAA is one of the more competitive leagues in the country. And I was also looking for a place where I could go to the gym anytime I wanted to. Coach Jere Quinn, I heard about his resume, but you go into his office and you see all of the college and NBA players he’s coached so there’s not much to argue if you see what it is right there. I knew he was a good coach, it’s a good program and it has everything I’m looking for so that was a big part of why I chose St. Thomas More.
PI: Are you pairing up with any other talented players?
TB: I would say I’m one of the main guys, but one of my teammates from the Rens, Dante Green, he’s coming to St. Thomas More [as well]. The rest of the players I’m not as familiar with, we played in the NEPSAC Showcase, so we had a couple of our guys in that tournament. I don’t know everybody, but I know it’s going to be a good team.
PI: What’s the latest with your recruitment?
TB: Interest; Oregon, Arizona, Wake Forest, Maryland, etc.
Offers; Rutgers, West Virginia, Pitt, Syracuse, Iowa, Virginia Tech, Penn State, etc. Those are the most recent. (Note: since this interview was conducted, Tyler has also earned official offers from UConn and Providence)
PI: How surreal is it to be getting all of this attention from DI schools?
TB: It’s kind of hard to believe, but it’s reality now. This season I’m going to have to really watch college basketball…not just watch what team I like, but seeing what system I would fit in that would ultimately help me get to the next level. It’s going to be a big adjustment and I’m going to have to start. Although it seems far away, my college decision is not that far away and I don’t have unlimited time to choose, so I’m going to have to start watching some of these programs and seeing how they play.
PI: What type of system fits you best?
TB: I want to play for a coach that’s going to let me play through my mistakes, a team that’s up and down, plays man defense, shoots the ball a lot and plays through their wings. That’s what I’m really going to be looking for.
PI: Who are you hearing from the most?
TB: Rutgers, even though they just offered me, they hit me up a lot. West Virginia, they’ve been consistent and they hit me up a lot [too]. Syracuse, Penn State…really all of them. So far there’s not really a leader, everybody’s consistent with staying in contact.
PI: What visits have you taken and are any more scheduled?
TB: I took a visit to URI this summer, that was my first college visit. I’m planning on taking a visit to Rutgers and UConn before I have to go up to school.
PI: Any schools you’d like to hear from?
TB: Gonzaga, UCLA and Florida State. Those are big ones right there.
PI: Are you open to alternative options such as OTE, G-League or overseas?
TB: I would be open to it, the OTE option that Naas [Cunningham] did where he forfeited the salary to keep his college eligibility I think was super smart. I think he’s going to benefit from that and that’s something I would do because he’s going to have the OTE facility, the trainers, 24-hour gym access, etc. And he’s still going to be able to go to college so I think that was a really smart decision for him.
PI: Ideally what are you looking for in a program of choice?
TB: I’m looking for a school in a good conference, a school that competes and can win their conference as well as compete for a national championship. A school with a good history, a good and stable coach, a system where they get up and down and shoot the ball, play defense, etc.
PI: Are there any players you model your game after?
TB: One player I watch a lot is Paul George, I like how he’s big and skilled, but he also defends. That was the first player that I liked and he made me become a fan of the Indiana Pacers. That’s like a weird team, but it was strictly because of him.
PI: What motivates you to work hard?
TB: My mom is a big motivation for me. When I was younger I couldn’t see all of the work she did to put me in good positions. Like driving me around all over New York to get to practice. Driving to Waterbury to go workout. I didn’t notice that until recently. So I see all that my mom and dad do and that really motivates me. He doesn’t really get to see me play all that much because he works a lot. It’s kind of work, come home, sleep, etc. So I really see the sacrifice that they’ve put in for me to be in this position and do what I want to do. That’s a really big motivation for me, to be in a position to let them relax.
PI: What do your parents do for work?
TB: My mom supervises a building which houses mentally unstable people or people that need help. She’ll also do home visits to make sure people take their medicine and stuff like that. So she’s basically like a nurse. My dad works on cars, he does like brakes, tires, etc.
PI: Do you have any siblings?
TB: I have four siblings. A younger brother and sister and older brother and sister.
PI: You’re the only one into sports?
PI: What are your siblings interested in?
TB: My brother plays a little bit of youth football and my sister is into whatever girls are into, I have no idea. My older brother just had a son, so he’s really just focusing on that right now.
PI: You previously mentioned the importance of having 24-hour gym access — what’s your workout schedule like?
TB: I’m in the gym a lot. I’m not going to say it was always like this, I used to hate working out and going to practice, I used to only want to play in the games. But freshman year and especially now…when I got my first offer it was like “wow, I can be a DI player” so it gave me a lot of motivation to work hard. Basketball is like the main thing I do, if I’m not playing basketball then I’m probably just relaxing somewhere. I don’t really do much so I get in the gym a lot. That’s the main thing I do with my time.
PI: What changed for you in terms of your mindset towards working out?
TB: I see what my mom and dad do and they don’t have a choice. They have to work to pay the bills, put food on the table and provide for my necessities. I took their work ethic and it got imprinted in me and made me want to work so eventually I can repay them for what they’ve done for me. It’s kind of like a motivational thing, too.
PI: What are some of your interests off the court? Any unique hobbies?
TB: Off the court I watch a lot of basketball on YouTube, like a-day-in-the-life type of stuff or I’ll just play video games with my friends. I have a friend group and we all play basketball, but off the court we’ll play Fortnite together. That’s about it.
PI: If you were to pursue a career outside of basketball, what would you do?
TB: I think I’d want to be like a Stephen A. Smith type…be on TV and talk about basketball. A Sports Broadcaster.
PI: Do you get animated and have strong opinions when debating sports with your friends?
TB: We have a lot of heated arguments about basketball opinions and stuff like that [smiles].
PI: If you could go out to dinner with anyone past or present — who would you choose? Why?
TB: I would say Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. I’d also say my Grandfather who passed away before I was born. Having a conversation with him would mean a lot. Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, they’re ultimate competitors and basketball players and I’d be able to ask them a lot of questions to see how they got to where they ended up.
PI: Say you woke up to find $10 million in your bank account — what would be your first purchase?
TB: A new house for my family and a lot of Kobes.
PI: Do you have a pair of favorite Kobes?
TB: My Bruce Lees. If I have a big game, those are the shoes I’m wearing.
PI: If you had one hashtag to describe yourself, what would that be?
TB: I would say #SilentAssassin, my coach says that about me. I don’t talk much on the court. I might hit a shot and then you’ll hear me say something, if it’s like a big shot. Most of the time I’ll hit a shot and run back on defense. I won’t have an expression on my face, I’m just calm, cool and collected most times. Sometimes I can get animated in the game during a big moment, but most of the time I’m just regular.
PI: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
TB: Hopefully I’ll be a high-level NBA player contributing for a winning team and doing good for my life and for my family.
To watch the full interview with Tyler, click here.