The world of sport is filled with stories of players who faced incredible odds or adversity, only to ultimately overcome those obstacles and achieve their dreams. Tyler Harvey, the Orlando Magic's second-round pick in Thursday's NBA Draft, has one such story.
Harvey, who led the nation in scoring with 23.1 points per game last season, lucked his way into Eastern Washington. After going unrecruited out of high school, Harvey was set on going to Division III school Woodward. However, prior to committing there, Harvey got the call that would ultimately change his college career.
A mere week after Harvey had seemingly being set Woodard, Eastern Washington coach Jim Hayford called the talented guard to make a proposal. Hayford, who had just been hired by the team, invited Harvey to walk on. The 6-foot-4 guard couldn't say no, and played as a walk-on for two years before earning a scholarship for his third final season with the Eagles.
In those three years, Harvey hit the gym day after day, working hard to continue to develop his game. By the time he had finished, Harvey was not only leading the nation in scoring, but also in three-point shooting, something he attributed to the Hayford's offensive system. "The offense we ran at Eastern, we shot a lot of threes, and made a lot of threes," said Harvey. "It was a fun offense to play in."
Magic General manager Rob Hennigan said that Harvey was an "interesting" guy. "Very proven shooter, very capable offensive player, has a really good feel for the game," said Hennigan. "Just a pretty sophisticated offensive player, and someone who we feel has a chance to make our team because of that."
While the hardest part is out of the way, Harvey knows he has more work to do, especially because second-round picks do not have guaranteed contracts. When asked if he could use success stories from previous second round picks, such as that of Draymond Green, as motivation, the combo guard said "definitely."
"You aren't given anything in life, you have to go out and earn it," said Harvey. Later, he said he's "ready to go out there and do what I can and help the team."
Harvey's skills as a gifted scorer and knock-down shooter fill two desperate needs for Orlando. Last season, the Magic ranked 27th in offensive efficiency, scoring 99.6 points per 100 possessions. In the process, the Magic also finished in the middle of the pack shooting the ball from downtown, knocking down just 34.7 percent of their three-pointers last season.
While Harvey knows nothing is guaranteed, he hopes he can make the most of the opportunity and impress the team enough to stick around. The report that the Magic would not retaining Ben Gordon would seem to open a roster spot for Harvey as a reserve guard.
Not many people know Harvey's story, but the 22-year-old continues to use it as motivation to get better.