Tim Tyree Jr. got a taste of what coaching a high school basketball team in a pressure situation is all about this past season when he filled in as the head coach for Vincentian Academy in a WPIAL Class A semifinals game.
While the Royals lost the game against Imani Christian, the decision-makers at the school gained confidence in the young assistant coach.
That confidence led Vincentian to recently hire Tyree as the Royals new head coach, succeeding Shelton Carney.
At 27-years-old, what Tyree, a Vincentian assistant coach last season, might lack in coaching experience he certainly makes up for in enthusiasm in working with young people and the Vincentian program.
“I gained a lot of experience last year and particularly that semifinals game,” said Tyree, a Monessen High School graduate and former California University player. “I took on more responsibility. That game is behind me now. I still feel we should have won the game. But it happens and you move forward.”
Tyree credited Carney, his association with Jamal Woodson, the Oakland Catholic basketball coach and the head of Slaam Basketball, with which Tyree is associated with in AAU basketball, for helping reach his new position.
Last season, Vincentian won Section 1-A, capturing all 12 section games. The Royals defeated Rochester in the WPIAL quarterfinals before bowing to Imani Christian, 80-71. Vincentian lost its first-round PIAA game to Saltsburg, District 6 champions, 63-57.
Tyree has been involved in coaching AAU basketball and in the youth program in Monessen at the Civic Center. He knew he wanted to coach and to have gained the top job at Vincentian at this stage is a big boost for Tyree’s career.
“I think I am ready for this,” Tyree said. “I guess people like what I did in the semifinals game and they saw something they liked. This kind of all has come together pretty fast.
“You think about it, this is my 23rd year in basketball, playing or coaching. I made a commitment to it a while ago.”
Gary Brooks, an assistant with the Royals last season, will remain on the staff. Tyree continues to search for his other assistant.
“I want to make sure it’s the right guy,” he said.
Tyree owns a degree from California in communications.
His former high school coach, Monessen’s Joe Salvino, is not surprised at Tyree’s quick rise.
“It makes me feel great for Tim to get a head coaching job like that one,” Salvino said. “Everyone has to step into the ring at some point and he’s been involved with AAU. He’s had opportunities and taken advantage of them. I always thought he wanted to stay involved in basketball. When your playing days are over, your best bet is to get into coaching the game.”
Tyree, who played at California as a freshman, then transferred to West Virginia Tech, then back to California for his last two years of schooling. He started his coaching career at the Monessen Civic Center during his senior year of college.
“I never took any semesters off,” Tyree said. “I was able to deliver my degree and I hold that degree dear to me.”
Tyree works as in information technology for SAP in Pittsburgh.
“I knew it would get to a point where an opportunity presented itself,” Tyree said of the basketball position. “You dream about it. I am going into a good situation. We have some good players coming back and some coming in. We are going to compete and play hard.”
Tyree also knows that a meeting with Monessen is a potential playoff matchup down the road.
He would have led Vincentian against the Greyhounds in this year’s WPIAL title game, if the Royals could have hung on in the semifinal game.
“Sure, it could happen,” Tyree said. “I would have had to prepare the team for Monessen. The coaches would have been back but just in time for the game. So it would have been my responsibility to have them ready for Monessen.
“A matchup with Monessen would be great for everyone. What a good story to see a kid from Monessen going against the Greyhounds. I think the community would love it. It would be huge.”