College Sports

Tyler Herro’s basketball journey to Kentucky a father-son affair

Kentucky freshman Tyler Herro on how his dad influenced his game

UK freshman Tyler Herro's preseason interview touched on how his father has contributed to his performance on the court.
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UK freshman Tyler Herro's preseason interview touched on how his father has contributed to his performance on the court.

The father of Kentucky freshman Tyler Herro played basketball well enough to draw scholarship offers from such schools as Florida State and Saint Louis.

A torn anterior cruciate ligament dashed Chris Herro’s basketball dreams. He said he “pivoted wrong” in the first week of practice of his high school senior year and — poof — he was no longer a basketball player.

“Honestly, it took me a while to get over it,” he said. “Three or four years. When you try to achieve your goal, and you have a passion for the game, it’s tough to swallow that. You live and learn.”

What did Chris Herro learn?

“One of the biggest things is don’t take anything for granted,” he said. “It could be over tomorrow. Don’t disrespect the game.”

Tyler Herro posed for a photo during Kentucky’s picture day in Memorial Coliseum last month. Herro led the Wildcats in scoring during their four-game exhibition trip to the Bahamas in August, averaging 17.3 points per game. Charles Bertram

With that, he said of the torn ACL, “I don’t wish it on my worst enemies.”

For several years beginning as a second grader, Tyler Herro played for his father in YMCA leagues. The elder Herro remembered his son and fellow third graders “playing up” in a league for fourth graders.

“They said, ‘You won’t win a game,’” Chris Herro said. “We ended up .500.”

Tyler Herro acknowledged the advantage that comes with a father who knows basketball. Father taught son fundamentals and held him accountable for mistakes in execution and judgment.

“And I think that made a difference,” Tyler Herro said.

Is Chris Herro living his basketball dreams through the eldest of three sons?

“People ask me that all the time,” he said. “I tend to really disagree. I played at a high level. I was Division I. It just wasn’t meant to be.

“Am I excited Ty is playing at Kentucky? Yes. Not because I’m living through him. I am just a huge basketball fan. I’ve followed it my whole life.”

Tyler Herro saw it differently. When asked if his father was living a basketball life through him, he laughed and said, “Yeah. Exactly. Because he stays on me no matter what. He wants me to get to the NBA just as much as I do. Probably more, to be honest.”

The UK freshman has not seen film of his father playing basketball. He has spoken to people and got a grasp of his father’s abilities.

“He could shoot it, for sure,” Tyler Herro said. “He could shoot. He was a dog. He talked a lot of trash. That’s what they said.”

Like father, like son?

“Yeah, definitely,” the younger Herro said. “I definitely can shoot. I definitely like to talk trash, too. So those two definitely carried over.”

The son did not credit the father for the pretty pull-up jumper that the Bahamas’ games suggested will become a signature component of his game.

Tyler Herro has struck up a friendship with ex-Cats star Rex Chapman. Herro’s play in his UK debut Wednesday drew comparisons to Chapman.

“He showed me how to shoot, but the pull-up is something that I kind of just mastered on my own,” Tyler Herro said. “Just watching a bunch of players who’ve played in the past, and what they’ve done with their footwork and stuff like that.”

Which player became a role model for the pull-up jumper?

“Mid-range, definitely watched a lot of Kobe (Bryant),” he said. “The things that he’s done in the mid-range. If you watch him, he scores just about every time he’s in the mid-range. It’s definitely a bucket.”

Chris Herro credited practice-practice-practice for his son’s shooting ability. It’s not unusual for Tyler to shoot hundreds of shots in a workout, he said.


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The elder Herro said he did not force basketball upon his son. Incidentally, late one night during the Bahamas trip, he watched Tyler and two younger brothers shoot on their own in the Imperial Ballroom.

“I’m not one of those parents (who say) ‘You have to do it,’” Chris Herro said.

His rule, he said, was “If you do it, you have to give 100 percent.”

When asked about the best advice his father gave him, Tyler Herro said, “Just stay level-headed. At the end of the day, everybody knows you want to play at the Division I level. But my main goal since I was little was to get to the NBA. Staying level-headed. Work hard. Treat everybody with respect. That’s really what it comes down to.”

About this series

This is the second in a series of 13 stories featuring members of the 2018-19 University of Kentucky men’s basketball team. Watch for all 13 in the coming days in the Herald-Leader and on

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