The Cutting Room Floor: Tyra Buss can’t stop

As you might expect, there was plenty that didn’t make it into today’s centerpiece on 2014 Indiana women’s basketball commit Tyra Buss. And, just like Dustin did with his recent Derek Elston and Victor Oladipo profiles, I figured I’d share some of those nuggets here in the latest edition of The Cutting Room Floor.

Buss is the most highly-touted prospect to commit to the IU women’s program in recent memory, and her addition adds promise to what is a heralded 2014 class put together by first-year coach Curt Miller. Buss is highly visible on Twitter, adding to the hype surrounding her game and five-star rating by the recruiting experts at ESPN. But she’s much more than a product of social media. She can play. If you missed it online, you can view my story for Tuesday’s paper by clicking here. There’s more on Buss after the jump.

Tyra the athlete

Basketball has taken her to the next level, but Tyra Buss is much more than a basketball player. Buss is a standout tennis player and one of the top athletes on both the Mt. Carmel track & field and cross country teams.

In tennis, she has an overall high school record of 73-5, along with a 52-match regular season winning streak. Buss is a three-time Southern Illinois Player of the Year and posted a 21-2 singles record as a junior. She is Mt. Carmel’s No. 1 runner in cross country and has set seven school records in track and field. Buss has also been a regular at the NFL Punt, Pass and Kick competition. She was most recently a local and sectional champion in the 2011-12 event.

It all lends to her versatility and endurance — a key factor that her AAU coach, Phil Kessler, believes is one of the most overlooked areas of her basketball package.

“She progresses every year,” Kessler said. “One reason she’s so successful is that she can play just as hard at the last minute of the fourth quarter as she can in the first minute of the first quarter. Not a lot of kids out there can do that. She just wears kids down because she’s in such good shape.”

Behind enemy lines

I reached out to a couple of rival high school coaches and eventually heard back from one of them. Charles Mair is in his 32nd year of coaching girls’ high school basketball, and recently completed his second at Princton (Ind.), one of Mt. Carmel’s natural rivals in the Big Eight Conference. During his long career, Mair says he’s used plenty of defensive alignments. But does he have one to limit Tyra Buss? Mair isn’t sure he has an answer for that.

“I do not think a defense has been invented that can stop Tyra Buss from scoring,” Mair said. “We just try to slow her down, but she is such a great athlete and competitor, she just seems to pick up steam as the game goes on. She is a phenomenal scoring machine.”

Mair didn’t want to be too harsh or sound overly critical, but he also mentioned that Buss is “the master of the flop, which puts her on the free throw line multiple times a game.”

This season, as a junior, Buss broke the Illinois record for free throws made in a career with 880.

This goes with what her father told me about Tyra’s willingness to sacrifice her body. Tyra leads the state in charges taken and her father relayed this one particular story from a recent meeting with Louisville four-star commit Emmonnie Henderson.

“(Henderson) is about 6-foot-3 maybe, and she gets a defensive rebound and takes it all the way down the court. Well, Tyra beats her and takes the charge. We’re talking about a girl who’s (twice the size of Tyra). But in her mind, that’s what she does. If she can take a charge, she does. You could see the coaches that were at that game stand up and clap when that happened.”

Why Indiana?

Tyra’s father, Tim Buss, estimates over 100 Division I schools were involved at various points in the recruiting process. Indiana first showed interest during the Felisha Legette-Jack era, with assistant coach Whitney Thomas serving as the lead recruiter. The tipping point for Tyra and the rest of the Buss clan came this year once Miller became involved. Tyra and her father said that Miller emphasized building his program from the locker room and showed them just how well members of the team and coaching staff have gelled in the short time they’ve been together at Indiana.

Tim said, “She — and really all of us — felt comfortable with them all. Coach (Brandi) Poole — all of them. They’re great people. They all believe 100 percent in building great character and family, but they’re also very competitive. When you win 82 percent of your games, I don’t care what level you coach. That’s a sign of a pretty darn good coach. With that said, (Miller’s) personality and the staff’s personality was a perfect fit. She fell in love with them and Indiana.”

“I would say over 100 Division I schools have been involved since the process started. From Tennessee early on to Notre Dame, Kansas, Alabama, Ole Miss and most Big Ten schools. There were quite a few. When we first started it, there were no boundaries. We were going to see where the process went. We were new to this and that’s one of the things we did as parents. We kind of shielded her early on from the recruiting process. The coaches would talk to us and we’d figure out who’s interested and who’s not. That’s been one of the good things because she hasn’t been bothered by the recruiting process.”

Tyra said, “It was a hard decision to make. But I knew after my visits — I think I visited Indiana two or three times — and I just knew that every time I went it kept getting better and better. They’re not just excellent coaches, but great people, too. They welcomed me and it’s just one big family there. That’s very important to me. The players were amazing, too. They were super nice. Every time I visited, the were nice girls. Some of them will be teammates and I’ll be very lucky to play with them.”

Knowing Tyra’s game and the success Miller had with guards over his 11 seasons at Bowling Green, Kessler called it a perfect fit.

“Curt Miller’s style of play is one reason,” Kessler said. “His point guards are typically the first team players of the year. They’ve had a lot of success because of the ball-screene. They can handle and they’re good shooters. That plays right into Tyra’s wheelhouse.”

Tyra and 2014

Although she’s been able to meet players currently in the Indiana program, Tyra will join forces with another highly touted prospect in the Hoosiers’ 2014 class.

Evansville Mater Dei’s Maura Muensterman is another recent Miller recruit that has grabbed headlines. Muensterman, considered the best 2014 prospect in the state, recently won her second consecutive Class 2A state championship. She’s played with Tyra before, most recently on Kessler’s AAU team, Indiana Elite Swish.

“We’ve played together since seven grade,” Muensterman said. “She’s a great player, a great point guard and it’s going to be really fun to be able to play with her in college. She’s very good at what she does. We meshed together extremely well. We have a lot of fun passing to each other, looking for each other. It should be good.”

Tyra was one of the first to know about Muensterman’s verbal commitment, but was sworn to secrecy until Muensterman eventually couldn’t keep the news private anymore in early February.

“I knew for a little while, but she told me not to say anything,” Tyra said. “She was going to wait until the week of state, but didn’t want to wait that long. I kept the secret and was super excited. I loved playing with her during AAU and I’m excited. We talked about if we thought we’d ever play with each other again. We talked about that during AAU. We’re really good friends and I’m very happy she committed to IU.”

The two will be joined in the 2014 class by Michigan wing Jessica Walter and Ohio forward Amanda Cahill. Muensterman said she’s also reached out to Princeton freshman phenom Jackie Young, who’s already received offers from Indiana, Purdue and Notre Dame.

7 comments

  1. welcome to tyra and her family. look forward to many great games, be safe, be happy, we’re loving you here…..

  2. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, this girl is the real deal, she is unguardable!! Don’t let her slight frame fool you, she is a stone cold killer on the court. Along with the 2013 recruiting class that is ranked # 27, this 2014 class will also be highly ranked because of Buss. Can’t wait for next year and certainly for the following year! Coach Miller is going to get it done when this great talent arrives on campus! Go Hoosiers!

  3. “Buss Drivers” still at it I see

    Next years rotation and I see them finishing somewhere in the middle of the Big Ten +4.

    1 Bell improved with each game solid – backed up by Newbauer, Mize and Brooks who could take over in the end.

    2 Hulls stone cold shooter with high IQ – backed up by Agler, Gassion and Mcbride

    3 Leikem a more skilled bigger version of Sinclair – backed up by Mcbride and Gassion

    4 Jakubicek proven mid major star – backed up by Taufa and Deloach

    5 Chaplin getting better all the time backed up by Deloach, Anderson and Mousty

    look for coach to ad some bigs before the start of next season and for you Buss Drivers she is a 3 star recruit not a five star. http://espn.go.com/high-school/girls-basketball/recruiting/player/_/id/144848/tyra-buss

  4. lllHustle, I know in the past you have been kind-of-a-Buss doubter but, She is the real deal! If , as you think Buss is just a 3 star recruit, why was every team in the SEC and big 10 recruiting her, SEC teams don’t chase 3 star recruits like that. Anyone who has seen this girl play knows she is special! About next year, there is NO guarantee that the NCAA will approve Chaplin another year after IU’s request? It remains to be seen if Hulls is another Creek that is injured every year although we hope not. Suffering an ACL injury 2 years in a row is not encouraging. We can only hope that McBride could be half as good as her sister at Notre Dame? If so, we really have something because her sister is an upcoming All-American! As much as I hope coach Miller would add another big before next year, how good could they be, all of the really good high school kids have already signed. From what I hear, if Anderson does sign in April, she may be the answer next year inside. I hear she is really good! Really looking forward to next year because it appears we have some shooters coming in. Only had 2 shooters this past year, shut one down and we were done. Still loved the job coach and his staff did with this team with so little talent available. Go Hoosiers!

  5. Mike Miller referred to her as an ESPN five star recruit I was just correcting him. I hope that Buss comes here and is the impact player you think she is going to be. I am careful not to over hype and base my comments on reality.
    I think that you are confusing letters with offers. Every recruit coming here probably has over a thousand letters from colleges including BCS schools. Three stars especially bigs will get early offers because you cant teach height. Small guards are a dime a dozen and like I said before there are alot of them out there who score alot of points in a small environment. Try this go to maxpreps pick a state and I will bet you the leading scorer in the state fits the profile.
    How about going with proven kids who have excelled at a high level. Claire is a good example she excelled at a mid major shes solid. Anderson has potential if she gets her head on straight. Also think about who are they going up against.

  6. Now that I think about, Sasha and Simone are great examples of kids who could have benefitted from playing in a bigger environment in high school or club. If they grew up playing at a faster pace higher level they would be much better at this point. The team will do fine next year and if you noticed I changed my name since I no longer live in Illinois

  7. Ok Mike C lets help your girl. Call Midwest Elite and see if we can get her on their top team this summer.

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