Tyson Ward has improved vastly over the past two years and he’s an up-and-coming player to watch out of the Tampa Bay area. Committed to North Dakota State this fall, you haven’t heard the last of Ward’s name, I can promise you that.
The Tampa Prep senior is fresh off an impressive season overall, averaging team-highs in points (17), rebounds (7) and assists (5) per game guiding the Terrapins to a Class 3A-Region Final appearance. Tampa Prep fell 73-70 to Windermere Prep in that game last month failing to earn a trip to the state tournament, but Ward and his group didn’t go down without a fight.
Ward put together a performance to remember for a lifetime. He dropped 31 points, including nine over the final four minutes as Tampa Prep nearly completed the comeback. He added two 3-pointers and then completed a three-point play with under one minute left to tie the game at 68.
The loss certainly wasn’t easy to deal with it, but considering Tampa Prep played without its top player in 6’10” Connecticut commit, senior Juwan Durham, Ward stepped up to the plate showing he can be a game changer and a team leader. The Terrapins finished 19-11 on the season.
“We shook the city. We were underestimated from the jump. We had our downs but we still shocked the city.
The 6’5″, 170-pounder has grown into his body after starting his career at Tampa Prep as a sophomore (1.8 PPG), playing as a role player at 6’1″. As a junior, he took on a bigger role and started to come into his own a bit, averaging 10.1 points, 3.8 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game.
Ward earned offers from five other schools (Coastal Carolina, Belmont Abbey, Florida A&M, Charleston Southern, Missouri-Kansas City), but ultimately chose North Dakota State, a program that appeared in the NCAA Tournament the past two years and finished as the Summit League runner-up this season with a 20-13 record under head coach David Richman.
He says that the first game of this season against Carrollwood Day helped he gain the confidence he needed to be a legitimate starter moving forward. Ward scored 28 points on 12-of-15 shooting from the field, generating six rebounds, five steals, three assists and a block in the 67-49 win.
Ward’s biggest performance came in an 88-74 loss in late January against 4A powerhouse Tampa Catholic. He recorded a career-high 35 points along with seven rebounds, four steals and two assists, shooting an effective 14-of-22 from the field on the night. Overall, Ward reached double figures in all but one game and had eight games with 20 or more points.
Under head coach Joe Fenlon, who is set to be in charge for his 34th season at Tampa Prep, Ward says playing for him his fun, but he makes it tough.
“Coach Fenlon has taught me for most of my life from middle school until now. He has helped form me into who I am today. He will get on you but he will never put you down. I have nothing but respect for the greatest coach in Tampa history.”
Ward certainly has a point. Under Fenlon’s command, Tampa Prep has captured 18 district titles, while appearing in nine Final Four’s, four state finals which is highlighted by a 2012 state championship.
Playing for the Q6 AAU team since his sophomore year becoming an All-Star at that level, Ward not only credits his teammates and coaches there for being a huge influence on his life, but also his family and friends who pushed him to his limits.
Ward says he feels most comfortable with his ability to drive to the basket. He attacked often throughout this season and you can see the confidence in his game each and every game. He trusted his ability to make plays in the paint and so did coach Fenlon.
“I’ve developed a new part of my game that I didn’t have the past years and it’s helped me out a lot.”
Ward’s competitive drive is what gets him out of bed and onto the hardwood for each and every practice. He says he doesn’t like losing at all and he felt that he had to prove something each game this season as the top scorer.
Last Saturday night, he appeared in one final game at the FABC All-Star Game where he finished with 20 points playing against some of the talent in the state which included TC point guard and Oklahoma State commit Thomas Dziagwa on the other team.
Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and last year’s NBA MVP, Golden State Warriors point guard are two players Ward watches, seeing how they create space from their defenders.
With school winding down and his summer near before his move to Fargo, North Dakota, Ward is focusing on improving his all-around defensive game and using his right hand even more effectively.
At North Dakota State next season, he’ll have a chance to earn a nice role on a young Bison team that graduates just two seniors and will have two rising seniors on the roster this fall.
Ward is only going to get better with more seasoning. The athletic guard had one last message to leave his friends, family and fans as he makes the big transition to college.
“I’m going to do big things just watch out.”
You have to love that confidence. Ward is a smart and gifted talent who should make Tampa Bay proud at the next level.
Jake Perper is the founder of Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to write below or email Jake at firstname.lastname@example.org.