With his 37-point performance in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Miami’s Tyler Herro has continued his meteoric basketball ascent, and the Heat will again square off with Boston on Friday, one win from the NBA Finals.
Herro, who spent one year at the University of Kentucky, is just two years removed from his final days at Whitnall High School in Wisconsin. Herro’s teammate, Jimmy Butler, managed to don a Whitnall Falcons jersey at practice in honor of Herro’s handiwork.
If hoops fans weren’t familiar with Herro during his prep days, this is what you missed.
He’s from a Milwaukee suburb
Herro was 11 years old when Butler was finishing his career at Marquette University, mere miles from Herro’s future high school.
Whitnall High School is in Greenfield, Wisconsin, a suburb just southwest of the Milwaukee city limits. The school encompasses part of suburbs Greenfield and Franklin and all of Hales Corners; it’s smaller than nearby Greenfield High School and Franklin High School.
Whitnall has usually been competitive but wasn’t a frequent visitor to the state tournament (trips in 1986, 1988 and 2004) before Herro’s arrival.
He cleared 2,000 career points despite an injury
Herro played only 13 games in his junior season after a knee injury, but that didn’t prevent him from scoring 2,036 career points, reaching a 2,000-point threshold that’s been achieved by only 42 players in state history.
He averaged a ridiculous 32.9 points per game as a senior.
Herro also missed time early in his senior year with a calf injury.
He’s recognized as the guy who de-committed from Wisconsin
Fair or unfair, a big part of Herro’s story in Wisconsin is his decision to commit to the University of Wisconsin, then change his mind and ultimately commit to John Calipari at Kentucky.
Herro committed to UW in September 2016 and de-committed in October 2017 as a senior.
While plenty of UW fans have hard feelings on the topic, the results are undeniable from the perspective of Herro’s development. He flourished in one season at Kentucky and wound up taken No. 13 overall in the NBA Draft.
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Herro played in one state tournament
As a sophomore, Herro led the Falcons to the WIAA Division 2 state tournament at the Kohl Center in Madison, and his team fell just short against Waunakee, the No. 1 team in the state, 62-59 in the semifinals.
Herro’s contested 3-pointer from the left wing just before the buzzer was no good. Waunakee went on to lose the title game to Kaukauna (we’ll mention that school again later).
Herro didn’t have a chance as a junior when the injury wiped out the second half of the season, and he was kept from the tourney in a thriller of a sectional game as a senior.
J.J. Watt’s alma mater was a thorn in his side
Herro played in the same conference as Pewaukee, the school that produced NFL standouts J.J., Derek and T.J. Watt (who, by the way, will all suit up on the same field Sunday when the Texans visit the Steelers).
The Pirates and Whitnall routinely battled for Woodland Conference supremacy. In Herro’s spectacular senior year, the Falcons beat Pewaukee in the league title game, 75-72, but PHS topped Whitnall in the postseason’s sectional semifinal (two games away from state) in a 60-59 epic.
The showdown, which featured Pewaukee big man Grant Basile (now playing at Wright State), sold out a fieldhouse in nearby New Berlin more than an hour before tip-off (and the game was relocated to a bigger venue with 48-hours notice). Basile incurred a serious ankle injury late but stayed on the court to score the winning basket.
In Herro’s freshman year, it was a 52-39 loss to Pewaukee in the regional (early rounds of the tournament) that ended the season. Whitnall got its revenge when it downed Pewaukee in Herro’s sophomore year en route to state. That was an inverse of his senior year; Pewaukee won the regular-season battle and handed Whitnall one of its five losses that year.
He didn’t win Mr. Basketball, and neither did a player who might get drafted even higher than Herro
It wasn’t without some controversy, but Wisconsin Mr. Basketball in 2018 went to Jordan McCabe, a dynamic guard from Kaukuana who led his team to two state titles during his career and posted eye-popping statistics of his own.
Not only did Herro miss out on the award, but so did Tyrese Haliburton, a player from an Oshkosh North squad that played in the same conference as McCabe.
Haliburton went on to play at Iowa State, and he’s declared for the NBA Draft after his sophomore season. Many mock drafts see Haliburton as a top-10 pick, perhaps even better than the No. 13 slot where the Heat took Herro.
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He got to meet Kareem
Herro may not have been Mr. Basketball, but he was the Milwaukee high school player of the year, and that meant he got to briefly meet the speaker at the awards event, all-time NBA scoring leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Check out the specs!
VIDEO:On the red carpet at the 2018 Journal Sentinel High School Sports Awards
JR Radcliffe can be reached at (262) 361-9141 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @JRRadcliffe.