Cameron Tyson was expected to be a big scorer this season for the Seattle University men’s basketball team, but the highest scorer in the nation?
Through two games, Tyson is averaging a national-best 33.5 points per game and also leads the nation with an average of 7.5 made three-pointers per game.
The redshirt junior shooting guard from Bothell High School will look to continue his hot start Saturday night when the Redhawks (3-0) travel to Portland.
“I expected him to have games like this throughout the season, yes, but I didn’t know it would be the first two,” Seattle U coach Chris Victor said. “He’s a big-time scorer, he’s a dynamic scorer. He had some big games last year and he’s going to have some big games this year. But to start the season with back-to-back games like that is pretty impressive.”
Tyson had 35 points and eight rebounds in Seattle U’s season-opening 85-71 win at UC San Diego, then had 32 points in the Redhawks’ 83-71 win over Portland State. He did not play in the team’s 106-55 win over Puget Sound.
Tyson, who is shooting 56.4% (22 of 39) from the field and 55.6% (15 of 27) on three-pointers, is taking his hot start in stride, even though he said his “phone has been going crazy” with people telling him he is the nation’s top scorer.
“I’m trying to keep it as humble as possible and not let it get to me,” said Tyson, who averaged 14.7 points last season. “I feel like when you get unhumble, that’s when you get humbled.
“Our team is just very good at finding the hot hand, and these last two games, it’s just been mine. They found me, and I feel like I’ve been producing for them.”
That’s a bit of an understatement. He now has five college games with at least 30 points, and he reached that number twice in a 10-day span for Houston in 2021, when the Cougars reached the Final Four.
Tyson, the leading career scorer for Bothell High School (having passed NBA star Zach LaVine), helped lead Seattle U to a share of the Western Athletic Conference regular-season title last season.
Most of the players from that team are back, but one big exception is point guard Darrion Trammell, who transferred to San Diego State after leading the Redhawks in scoring last season.
Tyson undoubtedly would have drawn interest had he entered the transfer portal, but he didn’t entertain leaving.
“There were definitely people telling me I could leave, but it wouldn’t feel right,” Tyson said. “I’m from Seattle, and I told coach Vic when I came here that I want to put this program back on the map and I want to leave it better than when I found it. For me to transfer, that would be not being a man of my word.”
Tyson said he didn’t enter the season with individual number goals.
“I just want to make it to the NCAA tournament,” Tyson said. “It’s something Seattle U hasn’t done since 1969. For me, being from Seattle, that would mean so much to me — knowing every time I step back here when I am an (alumnus) and seeing that banner and knowing that I contributed to that.”
Tyson said he worked on all aspects of his game during the offseason, saying he made his biggest strides passing “and being more of a decision-maker off ball screens.”
“I feel with Darrion gone, someone has to play-make, and I feel like all of our guards have gotten better with that,” he said.
Victor praised Tyson for the hours he put into improving his game.
“One of his best characteristics is his work ethic,” Victor said. “The kid works as hard as anybody I have ever coached, to the point where you have to tell him to take some days off sometimes and get out of the gym to make sure he stays fresh.
“He had a great spring and a great summer and this is the best basketball that he’s played in his career. He’s a great leader as well, and a guy who has been a huge voice in practice and in games.”
Tyson said winning a share of the regular-season title has given the team more confidence this season. He disagrees with the preseason polls that had Seattle U picked sixth in the WAC.
“I don’t think we’re sixth, it’s that simple,” Tyson said. “We lost D.T. (Trammell) and (backup point guard) Kyrie (Brown), but we return seven of our (top) nine guys. That’s championship pedigree right there. We’re more experienced and we’re ready to win those big games now.
“The feeling I can get is that we can play with anybody in the country. If we play our brand of basketball — we pride ourselves on toughness and defense — we’ll be in any game.”
Fifth-year senior guard-forward Riley Grigsby, a preseason all-WAC selection (as was Tyson), has plantar fasciitis and might not be ready to play against Portland.