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Bright future beckons Tyler

January 31, 2006|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - The foundation was laid as a youth growing up in the north end of Hagerstown.

The walls were built during his early prep years at Clear Spring High School.

As the walls were completed with a transfer, the roof has been applied with his final two years at Mercersburg Academy.

Alex Tyler turns 18 on Tuesday with a bright future staring him in the eyes. Following graduation, he'll have a busy summer preparing for the next step in his journey when he becomes at freshman at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

"(Cornell) fits me well, I think," Tyler said. "I always had hoped to be able to go to college and Ivy League schools are the best. There's better basketball than the Ivy, but this is what I want to do."

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Usually, whatever Tyler has wanted to achieve, he has.

As a junior at Clear Spring in the 2003-04 season, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Tyler averaged 22 points per game. His growth at a young age gave him fits with aching knees, but he had the desire to further develop his potential.

He hit the weight room and transferred to Mercersburg Academy, where he repeated his junior year scholastically.

"I was playing AAU ball in a league Buck Hoffmaster was running," said Tyler. "He knew Coach (Mark) Cubit and eventually we talked about Mercersburg. I knew I could only move forward playing against tougher competition.

"I really didn't even make the decision to go to Mercersburg until late spring," said Tyler. "I hated to leave Clear Spring. ... I loved the school. But I was going to get an education for down the road. My family supported me and came up with ideas to finance and it was a good package."

In addition to his academic growth, Tyler sprouted another two inches and put on 20 pounds from increased workouts. Despite the nagging knee problems, Tyler averaged a double-double last year at Mercersburg.

This season, he's averaging 15.1 points and 10.1 rebounds per game as the Blue Storm ride the wave of their No. 1 ranking locally with an 18-0 record.

"Alex is a great player in the sense that he makes everyone else better with his passing," said coach Mark Cubit. "His footwork has improved and that has improved his rebounding and shotblocking. He is near a guarantee close to the basket as you can ask at this level. He can run, shoot, pass and rebound and his defensive mindset is growing all the time."

Getting the choice of a college out of the way might have helped Tyler's performance this season.

"I visited, worked out and really liked what I saw of the campus," said Tyler. "When I made the decision, I think it let me go out and have some fun this year."

Mercersburg Academy does not release its students' GPAs, but Tyler's acceptance at Cornell certainly indicates he's not your average high school student. in fact, he skipped the second grade to move forward in studies.

Since Tyler has not graduated high school, he is not considered a postgraduate at Mercersburg. He is getting a taste of what dorm life will be like, though.

"As a senior, you live on campus, and Josh (Davis, a teammate) and I room together," said Tyler. "We're in the freshman wing and we make sure they are in their study hall, in their rooms at night and make bed checks."

Tyler plans to study applied economics management at Cornell with an emphasis on business.

"I won't be slacking," he said. "But I think I can go in and help as a freshman and get playing time."

"Alex is a fine young man from a great family," said Mark Cubit. "He has a strong foundation that is reflected in his humble nature."

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