In the middle of the state of Tennessee sits a town named “Celina”. There’s not much going on. It’s over the hills and through a two-lane road, that you will find a sign honoring something many people wouldn’t believe.
Former Indiana State star, Tyreke Key has a road sign. He may be ranked sixth all-time in scoring at the school with 1,650 points, but there’s a road marker in his town honoring him as the top scorer in his high school’s history.
“I think it’s special because a kid can look up to me and I can be a role model to them,” Key told The Portal Report, “That’s kinda why I hold myself to such a high standard. I take extreme pride in that and not letting people down. I think that I’m a high character person.”
Many people have gone on record to talk about how great of a person key is, including former Indiana State head coach Greg Lansing. When recruiting him, he stood around for two hours after a game as Key talked to and took pictures with anyone on the floor who wanted to do so.
You could say that he deserves a road sign for just being an amazing person, but he’s a pretty amazing basketball player too. In his time at ISU, he was outstanding.
During his freshman year, he made the MVC All-Freshman team while scoring 8.3 points per game. The next season, he had his best year yet as he shot 52.5% from the field and 44.8% from three while averaging 17.4 points per game. Insane.
Key would follow that up by scoring 15.6 points per game in his junior season and 17.2 points per game in his senior season, but he had a nagging shoulder injury.
He planned to come back to Terre Haute for his COVID year but decided to get surgery on that shoulder. It was the best thing for his health.
“Coming in, I was really prepared for the season but I had that shoulder injury for the last two seasons so I kinda been playing through that,” Key said, “I had it the strongest that it had ever been. I think it was a week before our first game of the season that the injury happened one more time and it was too serious to overcome.”
It wasn’t soon after the season that he put his name in the transfer portal and now will be setting up four visits after four coaches visited him.
One of those has watched him play quite often, being the class of the league until he took the job at Oklahoma last season. Porter Moser got torched by Key in his first game during the 2021 season. Tyreke scored 31 points, but he’s got to know Moser a little bit more.
“Porter has been in the MVC for as long as I’ve been here. So I’ve obviously played against him and we know each other’s backgrounds pretty well. Out of all the coaches, he’s obviously scouted against me, so he kinda knows the ins and outs of my game. Obviously, I’ve had some pretty good games against him,” Key said.
Another school that’s in the running is Texas Tech. One of his former assistant coaches at Indiana State, Khristian Smith got his start as a graduate assistant under Chris Beard at Tech.
“That one intrigues because they play such a high-level brand of basketball. Mark Adams is one of the best defensive coaches in the country, if not the best. So, just knowing that, and he’s a genuine person,” Key said, “He was actually here yesterday, he flew in yesterday to see me and we met and it was all great conversation. He’s a great guy.”
He will also be visiting Ole Miss. Head coach Kermit Davis has been on Key since he was the head coach at Middle Tennessee State and will look to strike iron this time around.
“Kermit Davis was at MTSU when I was in high school, he was wanting to recruit me but I think I had already signed to come to Indiana State. Then he ended up getting the job at Ole Miss,” Key said, “So he recruited me a bit in high school and just missed me. We had a great conversation with that two and two of his assistants.”
Lastly, there’s a chance that Key could come back and play for his home state school of Tennessee. I bet that the people back in Celina would be happy with that one.
“That’s the home state so obviously some ties there. Rick Barnes was actually the first coach that came out to visit me. He recruited me a bit in high school, recruited me late,” Key said, “Obviously, being back home would be something special.”
Key has one year of eligibility remaining and whoever gets him will be getting a special ballplayer.