It was day before Christmas Eve in Germany, but if you celebrate the German way, then the 24th is technically the night where all the kids open their presents while in the States some parents are still seeking out the local Walmat for the perfect presents for their kids. Tyler Cheese (196-G-96, college: Akron) was far away from home in Albany, Georgia but will never forget hearing his mom’s voice as a child and feeling her happiness knowing her kids were happy and loved getting the Playstation 2 and was performing what he loves most and that is filling up the stat sheet in Germany against PS Karlsruhe. The bad news for him was that his new team Ehingen would lose their 14th game of the season with no wins to show for and For Cheese it was his 9th loss in a row since arriving in October. For most players getting that dub is always the most important thing, but can one get into a festive mood after achieving an incredible and rare triple double. On this night he was involved in a tough shoot out loss one that Team Ehingen have been used to this season losing 111-91 to PS Karlsruhe and after 40 minutes where he battled for 35 minutes, his stat line read 23 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. And if you think this guy takes any plays off on defense, then you are mistaken. He also added 2 steals and 2 blocks to his game resume. Sometimes you have to wonder why the basketball God is punishing a player like that after such a phenomenal single game. ‘It’s tough, like I’m glad that I’m playing at a high level and that I am leaving everything out of the court for my team to help try and get wins! I do think we are finding our way though in order to start winning! I think since I got here I’ve been able to get some chemistry with the guys I feel that we are getting better as a whole’, stressed Tyler Cheese. It was actually his third triple double after registering two in JUCO. Even if you suffer the brutal loss, there is still a little touch of being proud of being able to produce something so rare overseas. ‘It feels good to go out there and contribute! For me, I just have to go out there and play to the best of my abilities and compete as hard as I can’, warned Tyler Cheesee. PS Karlsruhe and top Pro A player Stanley Whittaker who like Cheese knows what it’s like to have a chip on his shoulder played in the NAIA at Keiser noticed his unbelievable triple double. ‘He’s a good player, has the freedom and trust from his team to play that way, and I’m sure his team expects that from him. It was a good battle with him’, warned Stanley Whittaker. Clubs in Europe also have Cheese on their radar as he already played in Italy (Serie A) as a rookie and will surely reach a first division in a top European league again soon. Tyler Cheese is another rare guard that has demonstrated that going form JUCO to the highest Level in Europe is possible.
Tyler Cheese who lists Loren Jackson, Charles Manning Jr, Xeyrius Williams, Tremell Murphy and Shaquan Hemphill as his greatest teammates of all-time was born on November 13th, 1996 in Albany, Georgia. He played three years at Albany High School and led them to the Class AAAA state tournament in his junior year. He then finished at Combine Academy in North Carolina where he averaged 17,3ppg, 6,6rpg and 5,2apg in his senior year while shooting 41% from downtown. He earned All-State recognition with his stellar play. He then went on to play at Florida South Western State College. In his freshman year he averaged 10.6ppg, 3.5rpg, 2.0apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 42.3%, 3PT: 34.3%, FT: 78.2% and earned Second Team All-Suncoast Conference honors. In his second season he was able to up his stats and averaged 15.1ppg, 5.3rpg, 6.6apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 44.7%, 3PT: 32.7%, FT: 81.8% achieving first team All-Suncoast honors. He hit IMG Academy for 40 points and recorded two rare triple doubles. With my many interviews with guys that have played in JUCO, almost every guy has stated that JUCO was tough, but an experience that they wouldn’t have traded the world for. It wasn’t any different for Cheese who had a massive chip on his shoulder after showing that he could play in high school. ‘ I definitely had a chip on my shoulder going into my freshman year at FSW. Going to FSW to play for coach Marty Richter totally changed my life for the better! The experience was amazing, Juco was the best and I also wouldn’t trade it for anything. I made friendship and relationships that’s going to last forever’, warned Tyler Cheese. Even if his triple doubles in JUCO were huge memories, he also had another one. ‘I have so many to be honest but the best one was playing against Hutchison at their gym ‘because they hosted the Juco National tournament’ and we were the higher seeded team but the game felt like a road game, it was 7,000 plus standing room and we ended up winning by 20 points. I will definitely always remember that tournament’, stated Tyler Cheese.
After his stellar career in JUCO, the Georgia native who never played teammate Channel Banks in one on one, but won most other duels against other teammates made the next jump up to the NCAA and played at Akron from 2018-2020 playing 63 NCAA games. In his junior year he averaged 11.1ppg, 4.9rpg, 2.5apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 47.3%, 3PT: 29.3%, FT: 69.4%. He was able to make another jump in his development as a senior averaging 15.7ppg, 4.8rpg, 3.4apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 48.7%, 3PT: 34.6%, FT: 82.2%. No success comes without constant hard work something he did his two years there becoming a gym rat so it was no surprise to anyone that he could grow. ‘I think just the work I put in going into the year I felt very confident that I was going to have a big year! We also changed up how we were going to play which was very beneficial for me’, remembered Tyler Cheese. He had many great games at Akron like scoring 27 points against Miami of Ohio, but also had Western Michigan’s number as a senior netting 25 and 23 points in wins. But it was another game that ranks to his most memorable games at Akron. ‘My last game ever as a Akron Zip against Kent State at home. We won a very hard fought game and we were able to clinch the regular season championship for the conference so we got to cut down the nets. That’s a special memory that will always stay with me’, expressed Tyler Cheese. But not only hard work helped him grow as a player at Akron who remembers seeing Lebron James often at his softball charity event or his I Promise school, but also the guidance of head coach John Groce. ‘Coach Groce was the best, he taught me so much in my 2 years with him! I learned so many good habits that were bad habits before I got to him. He really just helped me become a complete basketball player and even a better man off the court’, commented Tyler Cheese. He earned Second Team All-Mid-American Conference honors and in his two year career scored in double figures in 42 games and as a senior scored in double figures in his last 19 games.
The fill up the stat sheet guard who has ex Louisville (NCAA) and current Milwaukee Buck forward Jordan Nwora as his toughest cover in the NCAA has already had experience in countries like Italy, Finland and North Macedonia before arriving in Germany. Despite him going through hardships, he has been professional enough to know that each organization wanted and needed him and that the thankfulness for his services will always be there. ‘I would just like to thank those organizations for even choosing me to be a part of their rosters! I truly learned so much from each of those teams and looking back at each situation I have nothing but positive things to say about each club. Although It was a tough experience, I don’t think I was a good fit to help either of those clubs with the way I wanted to play. Throughout my first year as a pro I was dealing with so many things from a personal standpoint that I just couldn’t focus on the game of basketball. When I was with Treviso-basket I felt I needed to be home with my family through that tough time but eventually decided to try to keep playing so my former agent and I decided to go to Salo to play but my situation had gotten even worst so I decided to end my own year by asking the team for a release to be with my family’, remembered Tyler Cheese. His professional journey began in Italy with De Longhi Treviso Basket 2012 (Italy-Serie A) which was short and lasted only 2 months. He won’t forget what his wake up call was to being a rookie overseas where he knew that he was very far away from home. ‘Just learning to be a professional at all times! I was going through a lot when I was with those teams and after being home after deciding to leave those teams I realized that I must learn how to separate off the court issues and focus when I’m on the court because at the end of the day nobody is going to feel sorry for what I have going on so just always come in ready to go’, explained Tyler Cheese.
He played 3 Serie a games in Italy the only game where he received suitable minutes was in a blow out loss to Milan scoring 10 points in 21 minutes. There he shared the court with Malcolm Delaney a guy he surely watched play in the NBA only a few years earlier and Spanish legend Sergio Rodriguez or ex NBA player Luigi Datome. You would think that an experience like this would be like a kid being locked in a candy store and being in awe. ‘ It was a good experience but it wasn’t a situation where I felt in awe about! Those guys are super talented and I respect their games for sure! If anything, it showed me with opportunity I can play on that level’, stressed Tyler Cheese. When your only there for a very short period of time, you have to soak up as much as possible especially when your teammates with a guy like then 38 year David Logan who was playing his 15th professional season and had racked up 9 professional titles, played at various European championships with Poland and played over 100 Euroleague games. ‘It was definitely a great experience to be a teammate of David’s, I still watch him play and I know if I ever needed to ask him something he’ll be there to answer any questions I have! He’s such a killer and I was able to go against him every day at practice when I was at Treviso. I learned so much and I have tons of respect for him on and off the court!’, expressed Tyler Cheese. He then finished the season in Finland with Salon Vilpas Vikings (Finland-Korisliiga) playing 4 games averaging 7.0ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.5apg. The Finish league is a solid league, but not as strong as the Italian Serie A. Coming to Finland must have been like a basketball culture shock? ‘The talent was definitely better in Italy because the league to me is one of the best in the world. It was difficult at times because we ran so many sets and I’m used to playing off instinct and reacting to what the defense gives me. The Finland league was a good league as well, fast paced, kind of similar to how we play in America but they were very heavy in Finland. The positives I can take with me from playing in Italy is to be more patient and always play to my strengths’, said Tyler Cheese.
So let’s fast forward to 2021 as 2022 is right around the corner. The American who has MJ, Kobe, LeBron, and Magic on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore is currently with Team Ehingen and like everyone else is battling through COVID as best he can. At the moment, COVID is wrecking havoc again all over as in the NBA, teams are desperate for G-League help and in some cases like the Boston Celtics have dug out 40 year old Joe Johnson out of retirement and in Germany games are being cancelled as numerous players are out with COVID. The main reason why his rookie campaign was cut short was because his mother caught the COVID-19 virus and was very sick and it only made sense for him to go home and be by his loved ones. In some ways coming home and not being able to make money was a difficult burden, but in the end experiencing so many different kind of hard ships made him stronger as a man. ‘I was probably at the lowest I ever been because of the situation with me coming home! I felt I let some many people down with that decision but it actually became a blessing in disguise’s because a lot of people that I thought was in my corner had left my side and now I feel like a burden was lifted off my shoulders so it made things so easy going into this new season’, added Tyler Cheese. COVID is still with everyone, but he is playing ball again and putting up incredible stats, but the only negative aspect is that his team is still seeking it’s first victory of the season. The club has no problems scoring, but defense has been as disaster as it is giving up an unacceptable 99 points per game. ‘I think we’re finding our way! A lot of our struggles are because the team has had a lot of moving parts and we’re finally to a place where we have the players that we are going to keep going forward that wants to be here to start trying to win games’, stated Tyler Cheese. Losing so much has definitely been a new learning experience, but he is doing all he can to make a turnaround in the season for the team. ‘I think I just try to use my experiences from my championship teams from high school, Juco , or at Akron to stay positive and do my best to lead a young team. I think me, Mu, Taki, and Zach are essential to doing that being the older guys’, said Tyler Cheese.
The ex Akron guard who believes they should have left the classic Coming To America movie alone is currently averaging 15,4ppg, 5,9rpg, 5,0apg and 1,2spg. He has never liked to compare himself to an NBA player as he has his own unique style that he brings to a team, but he has heard the Manu Ginobili and James Harden comparisons. When you see how he can fill a stat sheet the same way a Rudy Gobert picks a rebound off the glass, then it is no secret what his biggest strength is on the floor. ‘I think that versatility is a big strength to my game! I love to play make for my teammates and myself, and being a bigger guard I always loved crashing the glass so my teams could get out in transition quicker’, expressed Tyler Cheese. There have been many guys that have made the next step from the German Pro A to higher first division teams like Kendale Mccullum, Chris Carter or Terrell Harris just to name a few, so with the kind of stats that Cheese is putting up, he will most surely make the next step up the basketball ladder. He has the focus, will and passion not to dream, but to continue to grind in the lab the same way a Julius Randle has done for years getting the special inspiration from Kobe Bryant. ‘I think I can continue to get better at all areas of my game! I can become a better shooter, whether it’s catch and shoot or off the dribble, or a better play maker, learning the balance of making plays for myself or for the team, while also being able to be a better floor general. The biggest area I’m focusing on is the defensive side, just trying to find my niche with how the overseas game is officiated. Learning not to use my hands but uses my body more, learning to be physical without fouling, things like that! I’m doing a lot of film work to help with that and being on the floor experiencing those things help as well’, stressed Tyler Cheese. At the moment he is a super role model for young Germans on his team like Kevin Strangmeyer, Jakob Hanzalek, and Tim Martinez. He remembers how it was when he was at Akron when he was able to spend time with guys like Romeo Travis and Dru Joyce that not only played in Germany, but had great careers overseas. ‘I learned about Romeo and Dru at a young age being a fan of LeBron’s, I watched the movie (More Than A Game). During my time at Akron, they both would stop by sometimes and watch us practice and play! I also got a chance to workout and play against them when they were in preparation for the TBT tournament. I think guys like that showed myself and others that we can make a great living playing professional overseas’, commented Tyler Cheese. One thing is for sure, if Cheese keeps putting up great stats, developing marvelously and climbing the basketball ladder, then guys like Travis and Joyce will be very proud of their alma mater Akron in that it can always carve out new fine talent like a Tyler Cheese.