An exceptional facilitator on both ends of the court, Tyasha “Ty” Harris is a twenty-two year old 5’10” point guard for the WNBA’s Dallas Wings. Today she’s best known for setting up her teammates and her consistent control over the pace of play.
Before that, in college, she was a starter for the South Carolina Gamecocks where she racked up an incredible 1,000 points and 700 assists. While leading them to a 118-22 record, the number one national ranking in 2020, and a 2017 NCAA championship title.
So here, we’re going to take a look at Tyasha’s basketball evolution from high school to her WNBA draft day and beyond, revealing how she got better every. single. year. We’ll share her greatest assets and opportunities for improvement.
Plus, you might even find out a few surprises along the way – for example, she listens to Drake’s emotional tracks along with Lupe Fiasco, Eminem, and Chris Brown to calm her nerves ahead of games. Let’s jump right in!
Tyasha has been around basketball her entire life. Already as a toddler, she would watch her dad play in a men’s league at a park nearby, in her hometown of Noblesville, Indiana. By age five, she got her first experience playing against boys in a YMCA basketball league, where she was a standout. Shortly thereafter, her parents signed her up for a travel league, and the rest is history.
Tyasha was an immediate starter as a high-school freshman at Heritage Christian, and made an impact on the team right away with her skill and team-first mentality.
“She easily could have had a 30-point average, but that’s not what we were about and, more importantly, that’s not what Ty is about,” her former Heritage Christian girls basketball coach, Rick Risinger said. “She’s interested in making sure the team is successful, not just Ty. That’s a unique player. That’s part of what makes Ty so special.”
Over her four years there, Tyasha certainly found success for her team. She led them to four city titles, four regional titles, and three consecutive state titles. She also became her high school’s all-time top scorer with 2,004 career points, also holding the school record in steals (487) and ranking third in assists (426).
Furthermore, she produced higher scoring records every year. And by the time she was a senior she was averaging 23.5 points per game. As a result, in the 2016 class, she ranked as the country’s No. 27 recruit overall and the No. 8 point guard. And was named to the Senior “Supreme 15” All-State Team by the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association, as well as being awarded a finalist position for Indiana’s Miss Basketball Award.
But the attention didn’t stop there. Due to her standout performances, she received 54 scholarship offers! Meaning Ty had a tough choice to make.
“I’m very observant,” she said. “But [the recruiting process] has been hard. It feels like I was a freshman or sophomore a minute ago. High school has gone by so fast.” Since Tyasha noticed the trend of college players transferring after a year or two, so she took the extra steps to make sure that wasn’t going to be her fate, by talking to as many former players of program’s as possible.
After deliberating, Tyasha decided to attend the University of South Carolina coached by Dawn Staley, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, and former WNBA star. Tyasha explained, “My official visit there I had a great time with the players. I thought it was the right fit.” And she couldn’t have been more right.
OK all the way back in 2013 Tyasha participated in the 2013 USA Women’s U16 National Team Trials. A few years later, she was a member of the 2016 USA U18 National Team that captured the gold medal with a perfect 5-0 record at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship. There she started all five games and averaged 10.6 points per game, and a team-high 5.4 assists per game. Plus, her 27 assists holds the all-time USA U18 record.
In 2017, she was named to the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup all-tournament team. There she earned a silver medal. As her team posted a 6-1 record, after losing to Russia by four points in the gold medal game in Udine, Italy.
She participated in the 2018 USA Women’s National Team September training camp. Before, a year later, joining the U.S. Pan American Games Women’s Basketball Team on May 20. In Lima, Peru, she started in all five games and averaged 9.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game to help the USA to a 4-1 record and silver medal. She definitely made an impact on the international stage.
As the starting point guard for three and a half seasons, Tyasha’s teams ended in the top 10 in the country three times, including top-three finishes that bookend her career – No. 1 in 2020 and No. 3 in 2017. With a final career record of 118-22 (.843) for her teams.
She helped the Gamecocks to the 2017 NCAA National Championship, the 2018 Elite Eight, and the 2019 Sweet 16, along with two SEC Regular-Season Championships, and three SEC Tournament crowns. Plus, she helped achieve the program’s first final No. 1 ranking at the end of 2019-20 season.
Again, Tyasha increased her scoring output each season of her career, fully balancing her own offensive aggression with high assist numbers to keep her team engaged. As a freshman for the South Carolina Gamecocks in 2016, she started 27 games and provided a team-high 3.2 assists per game (14th in the SEC).
In January of her freshman season, she took over the starting point guard position. And led South Carolina to the 2017 NCAA National Championship title. Furthermore, her control was exceptional. She committed more than two turnovers only seven times in 37 games with 10 turnover-free games.
Already during her freshman year, she was shinning on both ends of the floor. For example, in the NCAA Elite Eight against Florida State, she hit 16 points and had three steals. Meanwhile was learning a ton from Coach Dawn Stanley along the way that built her into a stronger player during her later years.
When asked about how her coach impacted her, Ty shared, “[She’s] the main reason I went to South Carolina. She’s a great point guard, one of the best, highly decorated. I just felt like every time she spoke, there was a little nugget of knowledge that I could learn from her…Everything that she’s done, I want to do. And whatever she could teach me or whatever she told me, I just took it into consideration and kind of held it in so I could learn more and more.”
During her senior year, Ty kept building on her well-rounded foundation, and became the player that we see on the court today. That year, she averaged 12 points per game, led the SEC in assists overall (5.7, 12th in NCAA), and led in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.8, 10th in NCAA). As a result, her team had an incredible record of 32-1 and a Number 1 ranking.
She was a scoring threat: She achieved the 11th double-double of her career in the SEC Championship game against Mississippi State (March 8) with 10 points and 10 assists. Beyond that, she had a flawless 40-minute, double-double (19 points/11 assists) performance against UConn.
She got her offense on track: While playing Baylor she knocked down a three and caught a steal turned layup to end an 8-2 opening run. She also steadied the Gamecocks late, with a pair of free throws after the Lady Bears pulled within two in the fourth quarter.
She set the perfect pace: For example, Tyasha controlled the tempo in the fourth quarter at Maryland and scored five points in the final 1:07 to seal the win.
Tyasha also became an outstanding defender and the school’s all-time leader in career assists. “I’m kinda at a loss for words,” Ty said, “because I didn’t come in thinking I was gonna get the record. I don’t know what to say. It’s a great record to get. I always liked passing the ball. That’s what I pride myself on, a little bit too much, I guess you could say, sometimes. It’s great.”
Plus, her ability to know when to bet on herself made her a reliable scorer. “I think I’m just more aggressive, and I understand the game better,” Tyasha said. “And I feel like the game has slowed down, so it’s easier to pick and just kind of have my assists and points.”
She capped off her season by winning the 2020 Dawn Staley Award. And she left no regrets behind. Leaving the Gamecocks as the holder of seven career program records:
Tyasha Harris didn’t have to wait long in the 2020 WNBA draft to find out where she’d be playing. On April 17, the Dallas Wings selected the point guard with the No. 7 overall pick. She was the franchise’s third selection, after picking Oregon’s Satou Sabally and Princeton’s Bella Alarie at Nos. 2 and 5.
She became the 12th South Carolina women’s basketball player to be selected in the WNBA Draft. And was reunited with former Gamecocks teammates Allisha Gray and Kaela Davis, also on the Wings.
“I was super happy, super ecstatic about it all. My dream is finally coming true, a dream I’ve had since I was four years old. It’s just an amazing feeling that all my hard work has paid off, and I got to celebrate with some of my family back home in Indiana.”said Ty.
Of the 2017 Rookie of the Year Allisha Gray, Tyasha says, “It’s been amazing. From the jump Lish has been in my ear. She texted me before and when I got drafted. Anytime I have a question, I always text her first. She’s been a great help for me.”
However, with her drafting, Tyasha joined a team that had 15 players and only 12 paid slots. She was at workouts, when she found out the great news that she had officially made the roster and would get paid. At the time, she believed her role would be to control the team’s tempo; bring her IQ of the game; and try to create a faster paced team.
As a paid player, Tyasha Harris’ salary is about $68,000 per year in the WNBA. Specifically $68,339. She also has a contract with Under Armour, and will earn a good chunk of change playing overseas during the WNBA offseason.
Due to the departure of the Dallas Wings star point guard, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Tyasha had the opportunity to compete for major playing time. And boy was she ready for it: Ty said, “I’m super excited for that. I’m a very competitive person.”
It worked out well for the Wings, and for her. In Tyasha’s debut of 19:56 minutes, she scored a second-ranked 13 points among rookies and also dished four assists. She completed an efficient 4-of-7 makes from the field, 3-of-6 shots from 3-point range and a perfect 100 percent of her free throw attempts. Her plus-minus rating of +3 ranked fourth among all rookies, behind Crystal Dangerfield, Chennedy Carter, and Te’a Cooper.
Looking at her first two games of the season, Tyasha was immediately effective, and delivered steady, efficient performances off the bench, especially when paired with Arike Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally. Ty averaged 10.0 points and 4.0 assists per game, and knocked down 4-of-8 3-pointers. Bringing the team up to 109.9 points per 100 possessions, the second-best mark in the league and more than 15 points better than last year.
Tyasha’s quick first step and, as a penetrator, her focus on facilitating helped complement what the team already has going on. For example, in the clip here, she gets some help from the threat of Ogunbowale off the ball and some bad positioning by Chennedy Carter, but in both cases, she blasts past the defender and finds the open shooter as the defense collapses. As Ian Levy reports, “It’s important to note just how rare plays like that were for the Wings last year. They were dead last in the league in assists per game and third-to-last in 3-point percentage.”
She also improved as the season progressed – notice the trend? As a result, she started the final two games for the Wings, while averaging 9.3 points and 4.0 assists over her last three games. And she ended her rookie season, reaching double figures offensively in seven games, and with a selection to the 2020 third team All-American by the A.P. and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.
Now that the WNBA has wrapped up for the year, she’s playing internationally with Bellona Kayseri of Turkey. After getting a call from her agent two days after she left the bubble, letting her know they wanted her in Turkey by the next Tuesday!
At first, she was a little saddened by the news, because she’d been anticipating more time with her family. But then she re-adjusted her mindset, “Why am I sad? I worked my whole life to be in a position of being able to play in the league. So, why am I so sad that it’s finally here? This is my opportunity to do what I wanted to do with since I was young. I sacrificed so many hours and so much to be able to play overseas and in the WNBA.”
“And that’s where my mindset is at right now — just embracing everything, the opportunity to actually be able to play — because it’s a blessing to be able to play overseas, especially with COVID-19. A lot of jobs are being cut and salaries are being cut, so I’m just blessed to be able to be a part of a team and I’m very excited to see what the future holds overseas.”said Tyasha.
And she’s delivering against the opportunity, as she always does. She’s already putting up big numbers. We’re talking 24 points, six assists, and one steal big. Last year, the team finished in 8th place in the KBSL with a 9-10 record and was eliminated in the group stages of the Eurocup with a 3-3 record. With Tyasha at the helm, their odds are looking better this year.
Tyasha is pretty versatile, and is always looking for the pass. Here are a few of her commonly executed moves.
She’s a superb pick-and-roll ball handler (0.901 points per possession, 90th percentile of all NCAA players).
Tyasha tends to use this move to make some room. She does a quick little cross-over above the three, hits the drive with a spin, and then looks to make the dish.
OK not really, but she’s got excellent aim with her long passes and long shots.
The majority of shots she took this year in the WNBA were jump shots (34). And they were within 8 feet of the basket.
Her spot ups stats speak for themselves: 1.0 points per possession, 87th percentile.
Tyasha’s 5’10” height definitely separates her from other guards in the league, making her an automatic defensive threat. But she brings more than her physical advantage to the position.
“[Brian Agler] said he likes the way I play. He’s watched me since my freshman year. He said I’m a true point guard and I can control the pace and I know when to get the ball to whoever’s hot, and also when it’s time, I can make isolation plays. He believes in me, and I’m very confident.” Ty shared. So let’s check out some of this floor general’s basketball strengths.
Her explosiveness and skills allow her to set the pace of the game. “Her number one asset is her explosiveness and her ball handling,” Risinger said of Ty. “Because of our pace, we are able to wear teams down by the end of the game.”
Reinforcing that, Tyasha also talked about how pace is one of her strengths, “I think the basketball IQ and the way I can control pace. Learning from Dawn Stanley helped me a lot because she was a great point guard, she’s around vets all the time, pro players, so the IQ of the game and just the pace of how I play.”
“When I hear leadership, the first thing that comes to mind is being a positive role model for any and everybody,” Tyasha said. “It’s kind of like being that person people look up to see what’s the right way to do things and having the right decision-making skills to lead a team or a group of people. Knowing that young kids look up to me is why I play basketball, actually.”
And that type of leadership paid off for her team. When combining her scoring and the points she created with her assists, Harris accounted for 30.7 percent of the Gamecocks’ total offense her senior year. Which averaged a school-record 82.0 points in 2019-20 as they finished the season 32-1.
Tyasha’s greatest talent is setting up her teammates. Similar to Sue Bird in this way, she is a traditional pass-first point guard that looks to set up her teammates first, before looking to create scoring opportunities for herself.
She hit a total of 189 assists as a senior (tied for 6th in the NCAA) and led the SEC with 5.7 assists per game (12th in NCAA). And for her college career, she had 702 assists (10th most in SEC history) and 275 turnovers for a 2.55 career assist-to-turnover ratio.
When you look both at the possessions she ended herself (shot attempt, free throw attempt or turnover), and also the possessions that resulted in her assists, Ty ranked in the 98th percentile generating 1.312 points per possession in college.
“Very seldom do you come across a kid who does everything, but that’s Ty. She sees the court well, she’s great in transition, she can finish with either hand in traffic, and her defense is just as good as her offense, if not better.” said her longtime AAU coach, Marlon Wright of Best Choice United “She’s aggressive, and her size and instincts allow her to change speed and direction. When she gets it in her mind that she’s going to the rim, she’s a load.”
Plus, you’d think a player who had the ball in their hands so often would turn the ball over frequently. But not Ty. She averaged very few turnovers (2.03 turnovers per game) in her senior year, giving herself an impressive assist/turnover ratio of 2.81.
Of course there are still areas where Ty can improve. And if there’s anything the last few years have shown us, it’s that she will. Let’s dive into a few of her weaknesses.
Her shooting efficiency could still use some improvement, particularly at the three. As Kobe Bryant would say, you’ve got to be a shooting threat. That’s the basic thing everything else builds from and relies on.
Ty averaged a career-best 12.0 points per game as a college senior, and steadily increased her scoring over her four years with the Gamecocks (beginning at 5.6 as a freshman). She had a 41.7% college career field goal percentage and a 32.8% 3-point percentage (up to 38.4% her senior year though).
In her first year in the WNBA she got her field goal percentage up to a 43.3% which is strong, but her three is still only at 33.9%. And she missed the clutch hit in the last few minutes of their finals run game against the New York Liberty.
She’s not afraid to handle the ball with a few seconds left to end out quarters, and doesn’t crumble under the pressure. But she also tends to go for the drive on those plays, and doesn’t sink the baskets on them. Sure the bigs are crashing, but there are ways to anticipate the shoves and the blocks, and Ty doesn’t seem to have the experience to deliver them yet. Layups were her second most common type of shots this year. If she could improve her closing there, it would be huge.
Ty doesn’t do a lot of faking. She basically throws the ball where you think she’s going to. Sometimes she could afford to freeze the defense with a little pass fake in one direction, before swinging it the other way. Basically she could better harness the miss-direction pass.
It seems like there are some easy pieces that could be run, such as the dribble hand off, that would lead to more sure thing buckets. For example, a dribble hand off between Ty and Arike could go very smoothly and set the team up well.
If Katie Lou Samuelson comes up to the the top of the key, Ty could hand off the ball to Arike on the side, and Ty could cut into the lane. Meanwhile Arike could send the ball to Katie, who could connect with Ty on the pass, who could then use her height to get the two. Or, Arike could hold onto the ball, drive and get the floater.
There are times on the offensive possession where Ty is pretty still on the floor, once she’s out of the play. She should look to never stop moving. She could do top screen and rolls, back door cuts, dribble hand offs, and moving around baseline side. Basically move around a lot to keep the defense guessing.
Ty gets plenty of steals, and does an excellent job of keeping her arms out and wide, as well as getting them up quickly to cancel out the shot. Though she could take her defense to the next level by moving up and back on the guard, as they’re getting settled in around the three. All of a sudden, let them think they have an open shot, by backing up a little. Then, move on up into them quickly. And keep making it a guessing game.
To be a great scorer, you have to do the dirty work. And Ty had very few offensive rebounds per game this season. With a focus on offensive rebounds, she’ll always putting pressure on the defense. By not giving them a single moment to rest, and not worry about her, she’ll tire them out more quickly.
Fueling the body is such a big part of dominating at a high level, as Sue Bird’s diet overhaul has shown. And while it’s not entirely clear what Ty’s diet is, she did share that she had a big focus on bringing her favorite snacks to Turkey, rather than say her favorite protein bars. Though, there’s no shame in her snack game. And treating yourself has to be in the plan.
“I packed three bags for Turkey. One for clothes. One for shoes. And one for snacks and technology and gadgets, but mostly snacks. I have Fruit Loops with marshmallows, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Apple Jacks and Scooby Snacks — the graham cracker ones with cinnamon, I love those.” said Ty.
To see what she’s up to next, tune into the behind-the-scenes look into her life she provides on her social media.
Tyasha Harris Twitter musings can be found at @TyHarris_52. There she shares her latest stats, game insights, love for the Gamecocks and much more.
Come for the games.
Stay for the heat.
And the kicks.
Tyasha signed a multi-year deal with Under Armour. As part of it, she will step onto the hardwood this season in the upcoming UA HOVR™ Breakthru, Under Armour’s first basketball performance footwear specifically designed for female athletes and featuring a women’s last.
“We could not be more excited for Bella, Kaila and Ty to join us at Under Armour,” said Brianna Colón, Under Armour Basketball Global Marketing Lead. “These women embody our Under Armour values and they deserve our unwavering support. Fans should expect to see these fierce competitors make immediate impacts with their new squads on-court. After all, they have a track record of making history and we can’t wait to see what they do next.”
Of the partnership Tyasha shared, “My time at South Carolina played a big part in me becoming the player that I am today and, because of my time there, Under Armour has been with me since freshman year…I’m proud to sport Under Armour officially on and off the court, it feels like I’ve been doing it forever. It’s time for me to show the world what it means to ‘Finish Your Breakfast,’ because when you rise and grind, anything you start, you finish.”
With the way Tyasha has improved every single year, we can’t wait to see how Tyasha finishes out her playing career. We’re looking forward to more steals, more assists, and more wins.
Up next, learn more about her Dallas Wings teammate Moriah Jefferson.
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Tyasha averaged 6.8 points, 2.8 assists and 1.2 rebounds over 21 appearances for the Wings in 2020. She also had a strong number of steals per game.
Ty’s college awards:
Tyasha’s High School awards:
Some of Tyasha Harris’ top career records: