What if she hadn't? What if he and his father had gotten along?
There is no way to know, so instead he tells the story of his friend Greg Little, a running back and wide receiver who took the opposite road. Little went to one high school, Durham Hillside, committed to one college, North Carolina, and was drafted in the second round by the Browns in 2011.
"Greg's dad was everywhere," Tyree says. "Games. Practices. Scrimmages. Meetings. I didn't realize why that mattered at 14 or 15. I thought it would be O.K. for me to not have parents around. But then you see how hard you've made your own road, and you're like, A lot of this could have been avoided. I could have been at Duke. Coach K was recruiting me. And [UNC assistant] Steve Robinson. And [Wake Forest coach] Skip Prosser, rest in peace. And then to end up in these situations, it's like, Wow."
But let's play one more what-if game: What if Tyree had stuck with just one college program? From the beginning of the 2005--06 season through Sunday there have been 384 head-coaching changes in D-I. The seven schools Tyree has seriously considered offers from since he was a junior at Southern High—N.C. State, Texas Tech, South Carolina, Binghamton, UAB, Rutgers and UNC-Wilmington—have had 25 head coaches during that same time period, with each school making at least two changes. There's no doubt Tyree took the hard road, but instability and upheaval were unavoidable, no matter what choices he made.
The NCAA granted Tyree a sixth (and final) year of eligibility because of the injuries he sustained while at Rutgers. After recalibrating his dreams so many times, he is simply hoping to find a Division II or NAIA school at which he can experience something like he did in that prep year at Village Christian: a healthy, successful and stable season. He's searching for one rich memory, fixed in one place and time, that he can hold on to forever. Is that too much to ask? "Because I don't feel like I can say yet," he laments, "that I truly played college basketball."