New Kid on the Bluff: TySean Powell

Claire Murray / Photo Editor TySean Powell flies toward the rim for a tomahawk dunk in the first half of Saturday’s loss to Rhode Island at the Palumbo Center.
Claire Murray / Photo Editor TySean Powell flies toward the rim for a tomahawk dunk in the first half of Saturday’s loss to Rhode Island at the Palumbo Center.
Claire Murray / Photo Editor
TySean Powell flies toward the rim for a tomahawk dunk in the first half of Saturday’s loss to Rhode Island at the Palumbo Center.

Saúl Berríos-Thomas | Layout Editor

As one of six freshmen on the squad, TySean Powell has emerged as one of the most exciting young players on the Duquesne men’s basketball team.

Powell has had an excellent freshman year. He has played in 14 games and started seven. He averages 8.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and about half a block and half a steal per game. He is second on the Dukes with a .644 field goal percentage. His best game came against Abilene Christian when he scored 18 points and grabbed six rebounds.

Powell has played as many as 24 minutes and as few as nine this season. He knows he plateaued mid-way through the non-conference schedule.

“Coming in I was aggressive because I knew I had to make a statement,” he said. “I always tell myself never get too high or too low, but I started to get too comfortable.”

The lefty freshman forward hails from Twinsburg, Ohio, just 25 miles outside of Cleveland.

“I had the best of both worlds. I lived in a nice neighborhood, but my step dad was from the inner city in Cleveland so I went to school in Cleveland and I had that toughness instilled into me early,” he said.

As a youth, Powell played baseball, football, soccer and ran track, but he always knew he wanted to play basketball.

“I love the game. I was a natural at it. As I got older and I got more and more serious, I realized I was blessed and I could go somewhere with it,” he said.

Powell, who is listed at 6-foot-6 but is actually at least 6-foot-8, said he always had a height advantage. “I was mostly taller than everybody,” he said.

“There was a period where I stopped growing and everybody caught up to me. So, I started playing more on the perimeter. Then I started to grow again and I went back down low.” This period in middle school helped him get better with ball control and made him a more versatile player.

He started off his high school career by playing at Benedictine High School in Cleveland with sophomore guard Desmond Ridenour. Powell played his senior year at IMG Academy, in Bradenton, Florida. Powell was away from home and living in a dorm at IMG, so college life was nothing new once he arrived on the Bluff.

Powell knew he wanted to find a college where he would be comfortable on and off the court.

“The AAU program I played for was OBC [Ohio Basketball Club]. It’s a great foundation and it was built on family and morals,” he said. “[College basketball is] a business, but I didn’t want that feeling at the school I went to. Coming here I felt it was more of a family and they care about me as a person first before anything.”

Powell has a tattoo on his chest that say Proverbs 3:5, which reads: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” He says he turns to this verse to have faith during tough times both on and off the court.

“In times of transition I always have faith. I might not know what is going to happen, but I just keep pushing forward knowing something good is going to happen,” he said. “Coach Ferry tells me to work hard no matter what. If I just work hard, easy stuff happens and it’s just handed to me it seems like. I just never stop no matter how bad it is because you never know what is on the other side.”

Powell says he is a normal college kid just like anyone else.

“Being a [Division-I] athlete, people think we are up here,” he said holding his hand up high. “But if you see the people I hang with you know I’m just a regular person. I don’t hang with the teammates all the time. I still have regular friends. You can be in chemistry and have straight As and be like a little nerd or you can be on the football team. I am still going to treat you the same way. That is based off of where I’m from. You treat me right and I’m going to treat you right.”

What makes Powell and his teammates different is their competitive edge. NBA 2K15 is a basketball video game that a lot of the players play together.

“I am the best at 2K,” Powell said laughing. “No matter what anyone says.”

He says that Ridenour, senior forward Dominique McKoy, junior guard Derrick Colter and sophomore forward L.G. Gill are also good at the game. These guys take competition to a new level. Junior guard “Micah [Mason] can’t play games. He broke his Xbox 360 playing that game he got so pissed. Micah is the worst,” Powell joked.

Powell found a close friend in a senior who was there for him when he first arrived at Duquesne.

“Dommo [McKoy] was already here at my position and I respect him a lot because as a freshman coming in and taking some of his time and taking his starting spot for a minute, he was always there for me, teaching me and telling me what to do because he has already been in the situation I am in,” he said.

Powell has also formed a bond with sophomore guard Rene Castro, who is sitting out because of NCAA transfer rules. Powell believes that with Castro, along with Gill and freshman forward Eric James those four form the core of this team, which  is going to be good together for years to come.

“I am getting more comfortable,” he said. “I know Eric is getting more comfortable and L.G. [is as well]. Once we get Rene and Q [freshman guard Mar’Qywell Jackson] back in the rotation with the people returning, we are going to be good.”

Powell is part of the future for the Red & Blue. He is making an impact now and with his attitude and motivation, he is going to continue to improve. Whether he is dunking on Atlantic 10 defenders or pulling down offensive rebounds, Powell is fun to watch. He will be fun to watch for the rest of his time at Duquesne, and if he continues to fly around the lane like he has in a half season on the Bluff, you may just be watching him on ESPN after his college eligibility is up.