Tyler Dorsey has excelled at nearly every level of competitive basketball he’s participated in, winning a CIF-Southern Section championship with Maranatha High School in 2015 and helping Oregon make an unprecedented run to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament this past spring.
The Pasadena native will now have an opportunity to make a name for himself in the NBA after being drafted in the second round by the Atlanta Hawks last week.
“I’m excited, and I’m blessed to be in this position,” said Dorsey, who was the 41st pick of the draft. “I’m happy the Atlanta Hawks believe in me and chose me because all I need is one opportunity. To get drafted is a dream come true.”
Dorsey didn’t celebrate and rest on his laurels. The former Maranatha standout was working out in the Minutemen’s gym the next morning.
“I’m all about putting in work,” Dorsey said. “I’m ready to put in that work and get ready for summer league.”
The Hawks’ newest addition comes with plenty of motivation. Dorsey felt he should have been drafted higher.
“I didn’t go as high, but I’m here and I’m a sleeper in the draft,” said Dorsey. “I’m definitely going to prove that.”
Dorsey certainly proved he can shoot from anywhere during the NCAA Tournament. The 6-4 sophomore guard scored at least 20 points in eight consecutive games and helped the Ducks reach the Final Four for the first time since 1939. He became Oregon’s NCAA Tournament career leader in 3-pointers made with 25 and drained two game-winning baskets during the tourney to earn the moniker, “Mr. March.”
“That was a cool name,” Dorsey admitted. “I definitely liked the name and went with it. Maybe it will follow me.”
In his second season as a Duck, Dorsey was the team’s second best scorer with 14.6 points per game. He led Oregon with 88 3-pointers, shot 42% from beyond the arc and was the best free-throw shooter on the team.
A stellar sophomore campaign gave Dorsey enough confidence to make the jump into the NBA.
“I just felt like, after that season, I was ready as a player,” he said. “I worked hard and I felt I got better from my freshman year, and I can make this next jump to the next level. I think the floor opens up more and there’s more spacing, and that plays to my ability to shoot and spread the floor and take people off the dribble. I’m excited to get that going. I just felt like I was ready after my sophomore year — mentally and physically.”
Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk praised Dorsey’s scoring ability in his two years at Oregon, as well as his shooting and ball-handling skills.
“We’re excited to add his shooting to the team,” Schlenk said during a news conference introducing the Hawks’ draft picks. “The one thing with Tyler that a lot of people don’t realize is, I think, he’s got the ability to become a really reliable secondary ball-handler on the swing, to be able to run the pick and roll. So we’re excited for what he brings to the table.”
Dorsey watched the draft from home in Pasadena with his parents, who supported his decision from the beginning.
“We felt like he was ready and grown up and ready to move up to bigger and better things,” said Dorsey’s mother, Samia. “He definitely will finish school and will do some school online because we believe in him finishing school.”
After a nerve-wracking draft, Samia felt her son was going to the right team.
“It’s a long process,” Samia said, “and we were nervous. At first you get that anxiety in waiting around, but once we heard his name, we jumped up and screamed.
He’s been traveling and working hard for teams, trying to prove himself. He’s done a wonderful job and the hard work paid off. I think [the Hawks] are a great fit for him. They’re going to do wonderful things with him.”