SB Live Player Diary: Mt. Spokane’s Tyson Degenhart reflects on NCAA basketball academy in Phoenix

Tyson Degenhart is an incoming junior at Mt. Spokane High School. He is the author of a player journal with Scorebook Live Washington which will take fans inside the recruiting process. Follow him on Twitter @tdeggie13.

This past week, I was able to fly down to Phoenix, Arizona to take part in the inaugural NCAA College Basketball Academy at Grand Canyon University. This was an amazing experience for me and I think it will help me along in my recruiting process.

With all the recruiting scandals and AAU teams paying players, the NCAA decided to do their own thing, by limiting the weekends coaches can watch and by adding this academy, which is the only place Division 1 coaches can go from July 22-28.                       

The NCAA rolled out the red carpet. It paid for each player and a chaperone to fly down to Phoenix, a hotel for the chaperone, and transportation between the hotel and the university.

Here, I offer some pros and cons from my experience in the academy’s first year.

The pros

1. Great people to learn from             

Earl Watson (NBA vet), Ganon Baker (NBA Skills Trainer), and many others were down at the camp. They had many great teaching points that helped me out.               

2. Exposure          

The exposure at this camp was second to none. I have never seen more college coaches under one roof in my entire life. I feel like playing in front of these coaches is going to help me in my recruiting process.               

The cons

1. Standing during drills

I thought during drills, there was too much standing around. I feel like there were only 3-5 people involved in a drill at one time. This causes lots of standing around and wasted time that could be used somewhere else.

2. Dorms

This one isn’t basketball related, but it’s still a big one in my opinion. At GCU, they put us in dorms that were a 15 minute walk to the Canyon Activity Center, where we spent most of our time. With the heat, players started to get tired pretty easily after four days.               

Here is a recap of each day down at the camp:

On Monday, July 22, my family and I flew down to Phoenix and got shuttled to GCU. When we got to Grand Canyon on July 22, I had to check in and get all of the provided gear — a jersey, shorts, dri-fit shirts, a backpack, socks and a journal with a pen.

READ | Mt. Spokane’s Tyson Degenhart’s introductory SB Live Player Diary



After I got all settled in, I had to go to the Canyon Activities Center (CAC) for combine testing. This included standing vertical jump, max vertical jump, 3⁄4 court spring, lane agility and reaction shuttle. After the combine, I went to dinner and waited until I had to go to Camp Introduction to learn all the rules.

On the second day, after a grab-and-go breakfast (egg and cheese burrito with a yogurt and a granola bar), I had a skill session that worked on ball handling and shooting. That was followed by three classes — one was about how to improve on the combine testing. Another was about the danger of social media. The gist? Be very careful what you put out there because you can’t take anything back.

The last one was about college eligibility. To be college eligible, you have to have at least a 2.3 GPA and a certain SAT/ACT score that corresponds with it.

At my second game, there were about 20 college coaches present, which was motivating. I’ve never seen this many college coaches at the same place.

On Wednesday, we had three more classes. One was how to improve your combine score with certain exercises. The second one is how to stay out of trouble with certain situations.

The last one was about the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA). The speaker was Keyon Dooling, a 13-year veteran of the NBA. We were able to ask him all sorts of questions about basketball and life.

On Thursday, we had a morning class where we learned about the different ways people can be involved in the NBA, even if you aren’t playing.

Later that morning, I had my last game at camp. We lost by about 15, which was a disappointing way to go out. We ended up 3-2, which isn’t awful, but I think my team could’ve gone 4-1 or even 5-0. After the game, my family and I got on the shuttle and headed to the airport.                   

All in all, I think this was a good experience for me. I’m glad I got to play and get my name out to these college coaches because I don’t feel Spokane gets as much attention as it should.

After this camp, I have been contacted by a few schools. I received my third offer from Idaho State University and on Friday, I just received an offer from Eastern Washington.

Things are looking up.

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