Tylor Perry: Mr. Clutch of Conference USA

North Texas basketball star Tylor Perry had a season for the ages in his first run with the Mean Green, earning a spot on the 1st Team All C-USA ballot, while also winning the conference’s Sixth Man of the Year award. We were fortunate enough to have him join the Mental Dimes podcast in the beginning of May and learned alot about the long journey he has taken to get to this point as one of the top players in all of mid-major college basketball. From what we observed during the interview, Perry is as humble and genuine as it gets for a player of his caliber, and for that he certainly deserves all of the accolades and success that continually head his way. As you’ll find out, Perry isn’t one to back down from pressure, and he plays with a chip on his shoulder from being under recruited throughout his career. He’s proven to be a true winner at every level and he thrives when the lights are brightest. He was one of the most clutch players in the nation last season, hitting crucial shots down the stretch of games to send C-USA opponents home in heart-breaking fashion time and time again. 

Perry has never been one to worry about what the critics have said; instead, he’s focused on the task at hand. At the end of the day, all that matters to him is winning games; which he has proven capable of doing at all three levels of basketball he’s competed at in his career thus far. As a senior in high school, he led the Spiro Bulldogs to a state semifinal appearance, and was named to the Oklahoma 3A All-State team after averaging 25 PPG. His heroics in hitting big shots started back in those days when he drilled a step-back buzzer-beater from 3 to propel his team to a win over Sequoyah in the Oklahoma State Quarterfinals. He finished that game with 37 points, and little did he know at the time, there would be plenty of moments in the future to display his last second clutch shot ability.

Lacking any Division 1 interest out of high school, Perry had to take an alternate route in pursuing his dreams and aspirations by heading to Coffeyville Community College in Kansas for two seasons. Being under recruited just added fuel to the fire, as he would go on to lead the Red Ravens to the 2021 NJCAA D1 National Championship and win MVP honors of the National Tournament. He was named a 2nd Team All-American that season at the highest level of JUCO basketball, yet still lacked interest from many big time NCAA D1 schools. Perry received offers from North Texas, Montana State, UIC, and a few other mid-majors, but ultimately chose the Mean Green due to the honesty of the coaching staff and the family-like atmosphere that the program has instilled in Denton. 

Fast forward to last season, Perry finally got the chance to showcase his skill-set at the highest level of college basketball, and he fully took advantage of that opportunity. He was a key reason the Mean Green were able to secure a C-USA regular season championship, adding another ring to his collection. North Texas went 25-7 overal and 16-2 in the C-USA, setting program records for most victories in a single season and the highest winning percentage in conference play for one season. The Fort Coffee, OK native put his name on the map starting back in November by scoring 23 points against the Kansas Jayhawks, who would eventually become the National Champions. His best games often came against the best competition, dropping 20+ against three teams that went on to win at least 25 games last season. Perry’s favorite moment of last year? “Either defeating UAB on the road- the atmosphere was second to none, it’s what college basketball is all about; or sealing the C-USA regular season championship at home vs Louisiana Tech- in front of 8,500 fans, which was the most at the UNT Coliseum (Super Pit) in 40-50 years. The feeling of confetti falling down was crazy.” 

He was the leading scorer (13.5 PPG) for the program in 2021-22, yet only started on 1 occasion during the 32 game season. Probably the first time in his life not being a full time starter, it didn’t bother him one bit. He gladly took the role that was in the best interest of helping the team win. “In life, things are going to happen, things are going to change; but you just need to adapt- it’s never about the start, it’s about the finish. Crunch time is what matters the most to me”- and wow did his ability at the end of games prove just that. “Tylor Perry… for the lead…GOT ITTTTT”- words that Louisiana Tech fans are probably still hearing in their nightmares. Perry sent Bulldog fans home in disappointment during both regular season matchups last season. He first struck on the road at the Thomas Assembly Center, hitting a three with less than 6.0 seconds left to give the Mean Green a 63-62 win. Less than a month later, deadlocked at 49 with 2:20 to go, Perry went on to score the only 5 points from either team in the following two minutes of game action, including a dagger three with 58 seconds on the clock to seal the Mean Green’s C-USA Regular Season Championship.

Perry put a nail in the coffin for plenty of other teams last year as well. He hit a deep left-wing three with 2.4 seconds left in that hyped up matchup in Birmingham, giving North Texas a 58-57 victory over UAB. The fate of the team’s January game at Marshall was decided by the 5’11” guard, who came through with a mid-range jumper at the 0:39 mark to give them the lead for good. Lastly, down by 2 in an NIT matchup with Texas State, he hit both of his free throws to send the game to OT; and ultimately they ended up winning that game. In total, Perry hit 5 game-winning or game-tying shots combined in his first season with North Texas. To say the crew here at Mental Dimes is excited to see what he does for an encore next season would be an understatement.  

With the transfer portal being such a prevalent factor in college basketball right now, Perry said he’s staying loyal to the Mean Green: “I could’ve gone and chased high majors- but where were those guys at when I was coming out of JUCO? They didn’t even wanna look my way.” It’s safe to say that Coach Grant McCasland and the fans of Denton, TX are beyond glad to have him back for his senior season. The goal and expectation of the program headed into 2022-23 is to get back to the big dance. North Texas dominated C-USA all of last season, winning 16 of the first 17 conference games, but fell short in the tournament semifinals. Perry said that feeling of not making the NCAA Tournament stung, so there is definitely unfinished business surrounding the program. Coming off of a three year stretch that saw North Texas capture one conference tournament title and two regular season titles, you can surely expect them to be right in the mix once again when next March rolls around.

Author

  • Shea Irish

    Shea is a life-long college basketball fanatic. He has always been passionate about following mid-majors hoops. He's 25 years old and currently resides in Upstate New York. Co-host of the Mental Dimes NCAAM Podcast.

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