Eyre easing into system, community

By Joseph Garcia

Liberty Hill senior Tyler Eyre (#32) is a standout transfer from Vandegrift in Austin and has bolstered the Runnin’ Panthers’ front court with his size and skill.
(Photo by Kathy Canady)

Anyone who has ever moved knows the transition is not always easy, but it can be a pleasant surprise, which is apparently true for Liberty Hill senior basketball player Tyler Andrew Eyre.

Last season as a junior, Eyre played on a senior-laden Vandegrift team that made the 4A playoffs. The Vipers did not make it nearly as far as Liberty Hill, losing in the second round of the playoffs and Eyre thought he would be back for his senior season.

However, as life goes, there was a change in plans and his parents, Jennifer and Michael Eyre, decided they wanted to move.

Eyre, 18, said one of the main reasons his family decided to move to the Liberty Hill/Georgetown area was because in Longview, where his parents grew up, his mother rode horses and his father rode dirt bikes. So, they wanted more land than they owned in the northwest Austin area.

“(My parents) wanted something with more land like they grew up with,” said Eyre. “So they bought a house on a few acres and called it home.”

Eyre did not just find a new home in the area; he also inherited a new family headed by Liberty Hill basketball Coach Barry Boren. Boren not only accepted him immediately, but began scheming for the 6-3 forward as soon as he knew the transfer was imminent.

“I found out Tyler was coming to Liberty Hill back during the summer when his parents purchased a home in Gabriel’s Overlook,” said Boren. “After visiting with his Vandegrift coach (Cliff Ellis), I was pleasantly excited about his coming to us. When I found out he was coming, I had to make plans to utilize him without diminishing Blake Danielak and his strengths. So, we have tried to do that and Tyler gives us a size presence when he is on the floor. That facet does not always show up in the scorebook.”

Eyre is currently the Runnin’ Panthers’ second leading rebounder behind Danielak and has been a solid contributor on both ends of the floor, according to Boren. And if Boren ever needed to feed Eyre in the post, he feels the senior can handle the workload.

“There have been games where the defense gave us the post feeds to him, and he responded well,” Boren said. “So, when it is there, we utilize it.”

Eyre, whose teammates often refer to him as “T”, said his favorite subject is math. But it did not take mathematic skills to figure out that in the Boren system, you have to run unlike the half-court pace of his former team.

Vandegrift Coach Cliff Ellis’ program and Coach Boren’s systems are completely different, according to Eyre.

“Here at Liberty Hill we play a much faster game and we’re looking to score in transition along with making steals in our deadly press,” he said. “Over at Vandegrift it’s a slower pace and looking to score more in the half court and not so much in transition. You can tell a bit of a difference while watching either team play, but you don’t really have any idea until you have played for Coach Boren. Basketball season with the Runnin’ Panthers is like track season!

“Coach Boren also has a basketball IQ that’s off the charts, which helps when we’re in tight situations,” he said. “It’s like a college team with how precisely everything is executed while on the floor.”

Eyre’s favorite athlete is Carmelo Anthony and he loves collecting basketball memorabilia such as game-worn shoes and autographed basketballs. But he also considers himself a grease monkey and works on cars when he can.

No matter if he is living in Austin or in the Liberty Hill area, Eyre is able to continue do what he loves which has helped make the transition easier for him. In fact, the biggest difference for him attending a smaller school has been the police presence on the way to campus.

“The transition from Vandegrift has actually been rather smooth,” he said. “The biggest thing has been getting used to the cops radaring every morning on the way to school.”

From an outsider-turned-insider’s perspective, Eyre said that while attending school at Vandegrift nobody really cared about the basketball team whether they were winning or not. He likens his experience going from a 4A school in Austin to 3A in Liberty Hill to his grandfather’s playing days in Hoosier country in Indiana.

“At Liberty Hill everyone cares about basketball,” Eyre said. “It’s great you can go into a local restaurant or gas station and someone will know who you are and start talking about how the team is doing.  The whole atmosphere is different. It reminds me a lot of what my grandfather, Richard Lewis, told me what it was like growing up and playing basketball in Indiana. I feel like I’m in his shoes a little bit playing at Liberty Hill.”

Eyre was able to quickly assess the Liberty Hill basketball team as he practiced with his teammates during the summer. But he was pleasantly surprised just how good they would be.

“As soon as my parents moved I got to play with the guys and I realized we’d be a pretty good team,” he said. “But I had no idea I’d be coming back from Christmas break 21-2. I like (my teammates) a lot. We are really close like a family.”

An All-Academic player in his first two varsity seasons, Eyre is aiming to make the All-District team this year in addition to playing for his basketball future upon graduation.

“My goal is to make All-District, while averaging 10 points and 10 rebounds per game,” Eyre acknowledged. “I’m leaning towards playing basketball at Southwestern, but I’m going to let the season pan out before I make any decisions.”