Stellar Steinmetz

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By Zach Selby

From the moment Travis Nelson took the head coaching position, he knew Tyler Steinmetz was special.

“I could see he was good,” Nelson said. “Every single year he continued to develop and take on more responsibility. And when you see something like that, you can say, ‘this player is going to be able to go places.’”

Steinmetz’s determination to improve on his ability got Bryan College’s attention, and the school didn’t waste any time in signing him to play for the Lions.

“I got a bunch of stuff going on in my heart right now,” Steinmetz said. “It’s crazy. It’s always been my dream to play college basketball and it’s finally come true.”

From the moment he was a freshman, Steinmetz was impressing coaches with his natural shooting ability and desire to improve who he was as a player. When Nelson was named head coach of the Eagles’ basketball team, Steinmetz’s blue-collar attitude immediately stood out.

“He was one of those people that I had to chase out of the gym,” Nelson said. “If there was a practice, a workout or anything related to the team, I knew he was going to be there. He never missed a single practice and I was always proud of the work ethic he put in to get to this point.”

That work ethic proved to be a critical cornerstone in the success Oakdale had in recent history. Two years after Steinmetz began his high school career, he helped lead his team to back-to-back district championships and region tournament appearances. Although Nelson said Steinmetz points per game decreased in his senior year, Steinmetz’s hard working mentality still helped him improve his game and did his part to lift the Eagles to success.

All the while, Bryan College watched him with keen interest and saw a player who could help their team.

“I thought his game really matured in his senior year,” said Bryan College head coach Don Rekoske. “He did more things well than he did in his previous years. And over the course of the year, we decided we wanted to bring him in and give him the opportunity.”

Rokoske knows what he is getting out of a player like Steinmetz. He’s an all-around player who has a natural feel for the game and can do what is asked of him in multiple roles. Steinmetz is known for being a natural shooter, but it wasn’t his ability to shoot from three-point range that got Rokoske’s attention. Instead, it was his overall game that kept the Lions interested in bringing him on their team.

Over the course of the year, Steinmetz continued to improve other parts of his game to become well rounded in every aspect of the sport. Whether it was being a better defender or a better dribbler, Steinmetz showed he was willing to put in the work to improve those aspects of his game with the goal of playing at a higher level.

Three weeks after his senior year ended, Steinmetz got the call. The Lions called him and invited him for a visit, and Steinmetz quickly jumped on the chance of continuing his basketball career.

The Lions were Steinmetz’s immediate favorite. The former Eagle saw a chance to get early playing time and be close to the people who had supported him throughout his at Oakdale.

“I’m going to be close to my family,” he said. “(Bryan College) is a place that I can get early minutes as a freshman. And if I work hard and continue to get stronger, I’ll be able to do that.”

His former and future coaches agree. While Nelson does see some areas in which he can improve, he also envisions Steinmetz as a player who can immediately help the Lions by doing what he does best — shooting.

“With his size and shooting ability, I can see him being put on the wing and being a standstill shooter,” Nelson said. “But he also has a great mid-range shot and he’s a good on-the-ball defender, so he won’t be restricted to that. So I’m confident he’ll play a role for (the Lions).”

Rokoske shares that confidence, but also says it will be a “battle” for playing time.

“We want (Steinmetz) to get better at everything he does,” he said. “We want him to improve physically and mentally, and our culture is good in both those categories. But we really want him to help our varsity in some form during the next few years, whether that’s being a starter or coming off the bench. That would be huge. But I would like to see him help our team in some way. We had about seven players last year who were role players for us and I’d like to see Tyler be a part of that.”

Even in smaller college, it can be hard for a freshman to get minutes. But Steinmetz is going to ask until the Lions’ coaching staff tells him what he needs to do to improve, Nelson. And regardless of what form it will be, Steinmetz is confident he will help his new team.

“They’re getting a player who has a bunch of heart,” Steinmetz said of himself. “I’m going to keep getting better at my game…I’m going to do whatever it takes to win.”