By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky commit Tyrese Maxey started playing basketball when he was 4 years old. He also played softball but decided the heat was not for him. He liked football and played quarterback before his parents made him quit playing in the sixth grade so he could focus on academics.
“He was at a magnet school at the time with a very high academic focus. He wasn’t very happy with me. He will still talk about that today, but he understands now why I did not want him to play. That was not the happiest time but now the benefits have paid off. He has a great grade-point average,” said Denyse Maxey, Tyrese’s mother.
That academic focus was one reason Maxey had the option to reclassify to the 2018 recruiting class if he wanted. Instead, he chose to stay at South Garland High School in Texas another year and hopes he can win a state title.
“He told us he just wanted to stay with his friends. We actually did our best to push him to leave (high school) early. But it was his choice, his life and we did not want to do anything where he one day might say, ‘My parents made me do this.’ He loves his friends,” she said.
“He’s Garland born and bred. He loves the city. He wanted to finish what he started with the guys he started it with.”
That’s a similar scenario Anthony Davis chose for his senior year in Chicago. He stayed at his small school with childhood friends to play on a basketball team without a lot of other talent. Still, he came to UK, won a national title, was the No. 1 overall draft pick and is now one of the NBA’s elite players.
“So many prep schools reached out to us. But his thinking was why go away when he had all he wanted here,” Denyse Maxey said. “He didn’t see much need to go to a prep school or to leave school early here for college. His teammates have all been friends since second grade.”