The common rebuttal from high school basketball recruits who are known primarily for their shooting ability is "I’m more than just a shooter."
UK signee Tyler Herro doesn’t need to defend his overall game.
His peers are happy do it for him.
“I like his game a lot,” said Duke signee Tre Jones. “People labeling him as just a shooter only pushed him to go harder and prove that he’s more than just a shooter. He’s a great scorer, and I feel like he’s going to do really well next year at Kentucky.”
Jones was one of 24 high school seniors selected for the McDonald’s All-American Game, which was played Wednesday night. Herro — a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Milwaukee — wasn’t in Atlanta this week, but he was picked for next weekend’s Jordan Brand Classic and the following weekend’s Nike Hoop Summit, the two other major postseason all-star games.
Herro is the third-best shooting guard and No. 32 overall prospect in the 2018 class, according to the 247Sports composite rankings, and he’s expected to provide an immediate impact for the Wildcats next season.
Jones, a Minnesota native, said he grew up playing against Herro in regional tournaments, later going up against him on the Nike circuit and at other major recruiting camps.
Romeo Langford — the No. 1-ranked shooting guard in the class — told the Herald-Leader that he’d been playing against Herro since middle school.
“I like his game,” Langford said. “Real smooth guy, kind of like me. He can shoot the ball real well. I’d describe him as a midrange dead-eye. His midrange is crazy. Real good pull-ups. He’s just real smooth — I like the way he plays. He can do it all.
“He’s not one-dimensional like people might think he is -- ‘just a shooter.’ He’s not just a shooter.”
Those who have coached Herro or played against him in recent months told the Herald-Leader about his toughness, his potential as a defender, his feel for the game, his hard work ethic, his ability to shot-fake, drive to the basket and finish. There’s quite a bit to his game.
The two players at this week’s McDonald’s Game who will know Herro best by this time next year — fellow UK signees Keldon Johnson and Immanuel Quickley — had similar things to say about the future Wildcat’s all-around skill set.
The three recruits are in regular contact through text messages and social media. Quickley said Herro reached out to both players just before the Powerade Jam Fest on Monday night. “We stay in contact a lot,” Johnson added.
Quickley, who won the three-point shooting contest Monday, said he took particular notice of Herro’s improved play during a USA Basketball camp last fall, about a month before he committed to the Cats.
“That’s a point guard’s dream,” Quickley said. “Because they can’t help off you. And if you can get by your man, it makes the game a lot easier.
“Tyler’s a really good player. He can shoot it, can defend. He’s getting better each and every day. I’ve seen him earlier, then seeing him again at USA, I was just like, ‘Wow. He’s getting really good.’”
Johnson used one word several times to describe Herro: tough.
“Great player,” he said. “Can create his own shot. And he’s tough. He’s just tough.”
All three UK signees participated in that USA Basketball camp that Quickley was speaking of. Team USA coach Don Showalter was also there, and he has watched Herro progress over the years but never had a chance to work with him until last fall. He’ll see him again at the Nike Hoop Summit.
“Obviously, he’s put a lot of time and effort into shooting the basketball,” Showalter told the Herald-Leader. “So he feels real confident. I think that as I’ve watched him progress through the past three or four years, his confidence level has gone off the chart. He takes shots, and he thinks he can make every one of them, which a good shooter has to do. He’ll fit right in with what Kentucky likes to do. … He’s really going to open things up for them.”
Herro averaged 32.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and four assists per game as a senior, shooting 43.5 percent from long range. While Showalter lauded his shooting ability — and noted that UK should be able to space the floor with him in the lineup — he, too, has noticed his continued improvement all over the court.
“He’s really worked hard on the other aspects of his game,” he said. “So his game has really evolved in the past year or two, where it’s really a complete offensive game. And that says a lot about his work ethic and what he’s able to do.”