By Ben Hercik, Sports Editor
It is hard to believe that, with some of the former basketball players that have come through Cleveland State University, none of them recorded a triple double. Names like Norris Cole, Bryn Forbes, Darren Till, J’Nathan Bullock and Manute Bol all come to mind as players who could have recorded the university’s first triple-double. Yet in the 90 years of Cleveland State and Fenn College history, it had never happened.
That was until Feb. 9, when sophomore guard Tyree Appleby made history for the school. In the game against University of Milwaukee, Appleby recorded 19 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Now, his name will be in the record books for Cleveland State sports.
When asked about his thoughts and emotions after he successfully recorded the triple-double, Appleby understood that it was a big accomplishment, and he appreciated the support that he got from his team and family.
“It was a special moment because I had my family at the game,” Appleby said. “My mom and my aunt were there, so that made it really special for me. And it was the first triple-double in school history, so that was a big accomplishment. It felt great knowing I had so much support during that game from my family, teammates and coaches.”
Appleby has been a star for the team this year, having been named to the preseason All Horizon League Team and being the team’s top scorer in 15 of the 30 games that have been played. His performance this season has led to him scoring an average of 16.9 points per game. This was also not the first time that Appleby flirted with a triple-double this season, coming close on three other occasions.
Not wanting Appleby to come up short of the mark again, his teammates were keeping him informed on how close he was to the mark, allowing him to focus on the game and not watching the scoreboard.
“Guys on the team were letting me know during the course of the game,” Appleby said. “My teammates would come up to me during a timeout and let me know what I needed to get the triple-double.”
With all the great play on the court by Appleby, it has been fun to watch this season, that is only one of the things that he has to focus on. Many people forget that the athletes are students first and athletes second.
Appleby is very aware of this and is thankful that Cleveland State is able to offer help in that aspect.
“If we are struggling in a class, then Lisa Hehman (Basketball Advisor & Coordinator of Student-Athlete Affairs) will make sure and provide the assistance we need to get back on track,” Appleby said. “She meets with us all the time and makes sure that we are doing the work we are required to do.”
Coming out of high school, Appleby was not a very sought after recruit. Attending Jacksonville High School in Jacksonville, Arkansas, Appleby could have easily decided to walk on at one of the nearby schools or even decide to end his playing days, like many other high school athletes do after graduating. One school saw something in him, however, and decided to offer him a scholarship. That school was Cleveland State.
When asked if only one school offering him a scholarship put a chip on his shoulder, Appleby says that it did because he knew that he was a good player.
“I think it did a lot,” Appleby said. “I thought I played well in high school, but because it was a small school and I didn’t play with a big Amateur Athletic Union team, so I didn’t get looked at like other players. It put a real big chip on my shoulder because I know I can play.”
With the team eliminated from the conference tournament, the focus shifts to next season. The Vikings have a young team, with only two seniors, so they can bring back most of their rotation. While they brought in a lot of youth to this season, that turns to experience for the athletes for the following season. Appleby has the same expectations for the team, while saying that this past season has been a great test for them.
“We were very young this year, and we will have everybody coming back next year,” Appleby said. “I think this year was just a test for us and how we could handle adversity and grow together as a team. Next year, because of our maturity, I think we will be very good next year and win a lot of games.”