Haynes is Player of the Year
Published 10:20 am Wednesday, March 16, 2016
By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor
CALERA – Tyesha Haynes isn’t the best player James Knowles has ever coached. That award goes to Shanavia Dowdell, who was named Miss Basketball in the state of Alabama in 2006 before heading off to Louisiana Tech, where she was the two-time WAC Player of the Year and now plays professionally in Belgium. While Dowdell was a once in a generation type player to come through a school like Calera, Haynes is on the next tier in terms of talents to come through the Lady Eagles’ program, and after her stellar 2015-16 campaign, is the girls basketball Player of the Year in Shelby County.
“She was instrumental to our success in a lot of ways,” Knowles said of his senior guard. “I’ve been very blessed to have a player like her for this long.”
Haynes was a mainstay for Calera dating back to her middle school days. The 5-foot-7-inch senior was a five-year starter at Calera, cracking the starting lineup as an eighth-grader. In her sophomore season, she led the Lady Eagles all the way to the 4A state title game after hitting a buzzer beater in the state semifinals to push Calera to the state championship game. She did a vast number of things at a high level at Calera for quite a long time, in large part because of her intelligence on the court.
“She has a very good basketball IQ,” Knowles said of Haynes. “She knows what’s going to happen before it happens. She has a sixth sense on the floor. She’s also extremely quick, just as fast with the ball as without.”
In her senior season, Haynes averaged 20.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game for a relatively young Calera team that finished the season 18-11. With the athleticism and quickness to get by perimeter defenders at will and the size to finish at the rim, Haynes in all likelihood could have put up gaudier numbers in her final season, but that simply isn’t the way she is wired.
“Not only does she care about basketball, she cares about everybody,” Knowles said. “She wants everybody to be happy. (She’s a) Very unselfish player.”
That unselfishness at times became a crutch for Haynes, as she was sometimes prone to pass up opportunities to score to get her teammates involved, which is a good problem to have from a star.
Her combination of ability, on-court savvy and selflessness made life easier over the last half-decade for the Calera girls basketball program. She has consistently been at the top of the heap in terms of production year in and year out around the county, and in this, her final year, has earned Player of the Year honors.
Haynes is currently committed to Gadsden State Community College, where she will look to compete for playing time right away.