Post Falls boys basketball coach Mike McLean went to scout the game between Lake City and Lakeland two weeks ago.
McLean wanted to take another look at league rival Lake City, but he took his 7-year-old son to watch Lakeland senior point guard Tyrel Derrick.
“Tyrel is the only player outside of my own players that I have ever discussed and had my younger children watch to learn how to run a team,” McLean said. “We talked about how Tyrel played all the way home and the next morning before his (AAU) game. Tyrel is the best 4A player I have seen in the league since I became a coach (eighth season) in this league.”
McLean recalled when Derrick, a four-year starter, played against Post Falls for the first time in the schools’ annual spirit game. He had to guard Marcus Colbert, who is now a junior in his third year as the starting point guard at Montana State University.
“(Derrick) went head-to-head against Marcus in the crazy atmosphere of a spirit game and was able to control his emotions and lead his team throughout the game,” McLean said. “I came away very impressed with his skill level but more impressed with his ability to play under control and run their system of offense.”
Derrick, naturally a humble young man, was further humbled to hear what McLean said.
The clock is ticking to the end of a stellar prep career for Derrick. He eclipsed 1,000 career points in late January and has 1,066 with three regular-season games remaining.
He wants to finally experience a state tournament, though. He’d give up every point for his first chance at going to state.
Derrick has been to state as a spectator. He tagged along as a first-grader with his dad, Trent Derrick, in 2004 when his father was the head coach. That’s the last time Lakeland has been to state.
“It’s been a burden but not in a bad way,” Tyrel said about trying to get his team to state. “It would be hard to say if we didn’t go to state that this year would be for nothing. But for the seniors, this was the goal coming into the year. Anything less would be a disappointment.”
Trent Derrick resigned as Lakeland’s coach after 15 seasons when Tyrel was in eighth grade. He wanted to give more time to his athletic director duties, but he also knew Tyrel could have an impact at Lakeland immediately and he wanted to be a father and watch from the bleachers.
Dad has never been son’s direct coach. But, more important, he’s been his three sons’ life coach.
“He’s always my guy I can go to in a hard time,” Tyrel said. “He’s talked to me a lot about leadership, and that’s been ongoing since my freshman year and will continue in college. I value that more than anything. When I don’t know the answer with a leadership issue, he tells me what a leader looks like and helps define that.”
Dave Stockwell was hired after Derrick resigned, and he and Tyrel have been through the ups and downs of building a program together. Having Tyrel on the court has alleviated a lot of the frustrations Stockwell has felt at times.
“We had to change a culture here,” Stockwell said. “When you watch Tyrel, it’s no accident that he does what he does. Thank God he was there when I arrived, because it was slim pickings at first.”
Stockwell hasn’t had to teach Derrick much. But Stockwell’s son, Scott, a former standout who played for his dad at Post Falls, has been instrumental in adding polish to Derrick’s game.
“Scott went down a similar path as Tyrel,” Dave said. “He’s helped Tyrel not only physically but mentally. They have a special bond.”
Derrick plans on playing in college. NCAA Division III schools Wheaton (Illinois) College and George Fox (Oregon) along with Lewis-Clark State College are recruiting Derrick. He took a trip to Wheaton and returned home quite impressed with the school.
But he’s keeping his options open at this point.
Derrick was a two-year starter at quarterback on Lakeland teams that qualified for the state playoffs. He calls himself more of a running back than a QB. He was thrust into the position as a junior when returning starter Derek Bayley had shoulder surgery that prevented him from playing his senior season.
“Football helped me a lot,” said Derrick, who carries a 3.91 grade-point average. “Football provided a lot of situations where you make quick-time decisions. You win some, you lose some. No doubt it tests character.”
Lakeland, 13-5 overall and ranked second in the state after spending a week at No. 1 earlier in the year, faces a key league game Friday when it travels to Sandpoint. The Bulldogs upset Lakeland 45-43 in the first half of league.
The Hawks need a win to avoid a loser-out regional opener.
If Lakeland earns the top seed to regionals, it would be a win away from snapping the state drought.
“It doesn’t matter what kind of career you have, state is where real winners are,” said Derrick, who is averaging a team-leading 17.1 points and 5.7 assists per game. “To play for a school and a team at state is priceless.”
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