(pictured above: Tyriq Royal protects the ball.)
By all accounts, Tyriq Royal is just beginning to tap into his potential as a formidable factor on a basketball court. As a senior at East Forsyth, Royal didn’t post eye-popping numbers (averaged 3.4 points and 4.1 rebounds), but his presence in the middle made a huge difference.
With Royal serving as a road block on defense, the Eagles (21-5) won the championship bracket of the Frank Spencer Holiday Classic and were co-champs of the Piedmont Triad 4-A Conference. Standing 6-feet-7-inches and weighing 200 pounds, Royal isn’t the most physically-intimidating post player. However, he compensates with quick feet, desire and an uncanny knack for altering shots.
Coach Steve Hardin of Lees-McRae College is convinced that the best is yet to come for Royal, who signed with the Bobcats this spring. In Hardin’s view, it’s only a matter of time before Royal emerges as a top-flight performer at the college level. “Tyriq is an excellent post defender who’s willing to learn,” said Hardin. “There’s no question in my mind that Tyriq’s best basketball is ahead of him. As he gets stronger and learns more about his role and the nuances of the game, he’ll be an impact player for us in the coming years.”
Royal, the starting center, proved to be the perfect fit for the Eagles, who had three all-star-caliber players on their roster. With league MVP Larry Curry and all-conference picks Riley Larue and Brandon Childress doing their damage from the perimeter, Royal focused on crashing the offensive boards and playing intense defense at the other end.
While Royal was not a featured scorer, he did shoot 49.4 percent from the field and led the team with 41 blocked shots, which included a season-high seven blocks vs. Greensboro Smith. “Tyriq knew his role in our bigger picture and still managed to get better week by week,” said Coach Andy Muse of East Forsyth.
Even though East Forsyth had its share of headliners this past season, Muse makes it clear that Royal was the most improved of the bunch. “He runs the court very well for a big man, has a soft touch around the basket and he’s a natural shot blocker,” said Muse. “Tryiq will do well at the next level, as he is just coming into his own as a player. If he continues to grow and improve at the rate he has over the past two years, Coach Hardin will have a star on his hands.”
Looking back on his time with the Eagles, Royal believes that his career began to take an upward turn during the final weeks of his junior season. “I started to gain confidence and it carried over to my senior year,” said Royal, who graduated from East Forsyth with a 3.2 grade-point average. “Right now, the best part of my game is defense, but my offensive game is coming around. I feel like I’ll be ready (for college). I’m putting a lot of time into building my stamina and I know that with me getting bigger and stronger that it will help in my growth and progress as a player.”