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Step Into My Office: Tyrese Haliburton

The freshman guard caught a lot of people by surprise.

NCAA Basketball: Kansas at Iowa State Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

To put a bow on this college basketball season, we’re resurrecting a once-dormant series of ours where we ask each returning Cyclone to “step into our office” to review the season that was, and take a shot at what next season could look like for them.

First up is a sophomore-to-be point guard that caught a lot of people by surprise this season, and has the look of a program cornerstone for the next three years, Tyrese Haliburton.

Season at a Glance

Coming to Ames as an under-the-radar three-star prospect out of Oshkosh, WI, Haliburton was thought to be much closer to a redshirt candidate than an eventual starter, especially given his wiry frame at 6’5” 175 lbs and a “set” jump shot that would make it more difficult to get shots off quickly against Big 12 defenses.

When Lindell Wigginton injured his foot in the first game of the season, Tyrese took his place in the rotation, and gained a huge opportunity for a lot of early playing time against weaker teams to get up to speed and show us what he could do. He took complete advantage of the extra playing time, posting an average offensive rating (KenPom) of 129.5 over 34 minutes per game of playing time, including two games in which he played all 40 minutes, in the rest of the non-conference schedule before conference play began.

He didn’t put up particularly gaudy numbers in any game (save for the school-record 17 assists against Southern), but was the definition of rock-solid on offense, committing a grand total of 10 turnovers in the entirety of pre-Big 12 non-conference play while shooting 45.4% from three.

The three-point shooting was particularly surprising, since his jump-shooting form falls firmly in the “ugly-but-undeniably-effective” category.

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma at Iowa State Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Tyrese was so good during the non-conference schedule that when Lindell Wigginton, the Big12’s leading returning scorer, came back from injury, Steve Prohm continued to start him over the talented sophomore in order to maintain the offensive flow and chemistry that had been built so quickly.

Tyrese’s numbers dipped just a bit during conference play (which happens to basically every player in America), but still shot over 41% from three and posted a true shooting percentage over 60 while playing more minutes than anyone not named Nick Weiler-Babb.

Let’s take a closer look at Haliburton’s metrics from this past season.

Tyrese Haliburton 2018-2019 Metrics

ORtg %Poss eFG% TS% ARate TORate 2PM-A Pct 3PM-A Pct
ORtg %Poss eFG% TS% ARate TORate 2PM-A Pct 3PM-A Pct
136.8 10.1 66.2 66.6 17.3 13.9 37-54 0.685 49-113 0.434

All of these numbers are very good, especially for an extremely raw freshman that still needs to grow into his frame. However, one number in particular stands out: %Poss. Essentially this number tells us how often a possession ends with Tyrese taking a shot or turning the ball over. Since Tyrese doesn’t turn the ball over very often, it’s clear to see that Tyrese just flat-out needs to shoot the ball more.

His shooting opportunities are more limited than a guy like THT or Lindell because his jump shot is reliant on catch-and-shoot opportunities and he can’t really bully his way into the lane just yet, but there were more than a few instances where he passed up an open shot to pass to his teammates. Credit the guy for wanting to distribute the ball, but passing up shots so often, especially ones that you’ve been making at a high rate, allows the defense to sag off and collapse the floor.

Maybe the most impressive thing about Tyrese that we saw this season, however, was his on-court demeanor. Even as an inexperienced freshman, he was seen throughout the game playing with a level of enjoyment and enthusiasm that we haven’t seen from a Cyclone player for a few years, and routinely corralling his teammates after tough plays, earning countless comparisons to Naz Mitrou-Long for his on-court leadership abilities.

Those leadership traits, combined with his efficiency and a body and jump shot that still have a ton of room for improvement make him one of the most exciting and important players on the roster heading into next season.

2019-2020 Season Outlook

Without a doubt, this offseason for Tyrese is all about adding muscle and cleaning up that jumper. By “cleaning up,” I really mean expanding. As it currently sits, his jump shot is plenty effective in open catch and shoot situations, but speeding it up and making it more flexible for pull-up and mid-range shots will make Tyrese that much more effective.

At 6’5” 175 lbs, Tyrese has a lot frame that he can grow into. He already plays more physically at the rim than you might expect for someone his size, but adding some muscle this offseason could make him significantly more dangerous both at the rim and on defense.

Right now, he’s basically a 6’5” Monte Morris with Naz Mitrou-Long’s personality, which is just about the greatest compliment you can give a Cyclone point guard. Now, it’s about expanding his game, and learning how and when to be more aggressive with his own scoring.

Next year, I’m fully expecting Tyrese to become the unquestioned leader of the offense. He might not be the leading scorer, but he has the personality, body, and skill set to be one of the best guards in the Big 12 next season. If he can expand his jump shot to off-the-dribble shots and some midrange, as well become a more aggressive scorer, then he could potentially lead the team in scoring as well.