Described as one of the best point guards to ever play for Missouri State University-West Plains, Tyrone Brazelton ushered in a new era for the Grizzly Basketball program when he arrived from Chicago, Ill., in 2004.
Brazelton was the first freshman recruit of the program's second head coach, Brian Ostermann, and all eyes were trained on the 5-foot, 11-inch product from Rich Central High School in Olympia Fields, Ill., (a Chicago suburb) to see what he would bring to the team. It didn't take long for Grizzly coaches and fans to realize he brought a lot.
"Ty was the foundation of the first two years of my tenure at Missouri State-West Plains," Ostermann said. "He helped rebuild the Grizzly program back into a national power. He was the leader for our team, and he led us to seven wins over teams ranked in the top 15."
Brazelton came to the Grizzlies a proven winner after he helped lead his Rich Central Olympians to a 25-7 season record, the SICA South Conference title and a 10-0 conference record, regional and sectional titles, and the championship of the annual Big Dipper Holiday Tournament, one of the biggest holiday tournaments in Chicago, during his senior season. His efforts on the court led to several individual honors, including first-team all-conference and honorable mention all-state. In addition, he was selected to play in the annual Legends vs. Seniors and the City vs. Suburban All-Star Games.
With that kind of pedigree, Brazelton adjusted well to the college game and made significant contributions to the Grizzly team. Coaches, teammates and fans saw just how important he would be to the Grizzlies early during his freshman season when he recorded the first of many double-doubles with 14 points and 10 assists against Missouri Baptist College's junior varsity squad.
"Ty was a scoring point guard for us. He had a great ability to get shots for his teammates and for himself," Ostermann recalled. "He was a great ball handler, a great scorer and a good defender. He was very quick with the ball, and he could always get to the basket."
He also showed he could be cool under pressure when he hit the shots needed to send the Grizzlies into two overtimes against Fort Scott Community College on Nov. 16, 2004, in Kansas. Although the Grizzlies lost the game, they discovered they had a go-to guy who could keep them in the close games.
In addition, Brazelton was a key component to the Grizzlies' "monumental win" at Vincennes University on Jan. 19, 2005, when his 28 points – including five 3-pointers – helped the Grizzlies hand the Trailblazers just their 46th home loss in 31 years of play! His continued consistent play as a freshman led Ostermann to declare that Brazelton was the team's best player following the holiday break that season. He finished the year averaging 11.5 points, 4.1 assists and 3.7 rebounds and earning All-Region 16 Team honors.
But the best for Brazelton was yet to come. He may have turned some heads as a freshman, but players, fans, coaches and scouts really began noticing the junior college standout when he scored 32 points against the nation's then No. 1 team, the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith Lions, in the final game of the Ozarks Medical Center Tip-Off Classic on Nov. 5, 2005, to give the Grizzlies a 99-86 win.
His value and legend continued to build during his sophomore season with impressive performances against Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (23 points), Eastern Oklahoma College (30 points), No. 4 Coffeyville Community College (23 points), Mineral Area College (29 points, 12 rebounds Jan. 14, 2006; 35 points Feb. 1, 2006), No. 18 Indian Hills Community College (25 points) and Moberly Area Community College (25 points), just to name a few.
"Ty was fabulous, scoring over 30 points and leading us to a win over the No. 1 team in the country," Ostermann praised. "He also led our come-back win over nationally-ranked Coffeyville. We were down by 16 points in the second half."
Brazelton also continued his last-minute heroics, hitting two key free throws to send the Jan. 14, 2006, game against Mineral Area College (MAC) into its first of four overtimes, and hitting a clutch 3-pointer against MAC Feb. 1, 2006, to send the game into the first of two overtime periods. He also showed off his defensive prowess against Three Rivers Community College Jan. 21, 2006, when he held the Raiders' leading scorer, who had been averaging 20 points a game, to just 5.
By the time the season was over, Brazelton had posted the numbers needed to earn Region 16 Player of the Year honors. His 18.3 points, 4.8 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game also were good enough to earn first-team NJCAA All-American honors – the second Grizzly in program history to receive first-team honors. He'd also guided the Grizzlies back to the Region 16 Championship for the first time in five years.
To say he was the Grizzlies' leader during his sophomore season is an understatement. He led the team in scoring (18.3 points), field goals made (194), free throws made (140), free throws attempted (190), assists (158) and steals (66). His mark in the record books include a tie for second all time in assists for a game (12), fourth in free throws made in a game (16 vs. MAC on Feb. 11, 2006), and third in career assists (289). Brazelton received his Associate of Arts in General Studies degree from Missouri State-West Plains in 2006 and signed with the Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers in Bowling Green where he helped lead the team to its first NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in March 2008 after winning the Sun Belt Conference regular season and post-season tournament titles. Brazelton shone on the national stage, scoring 33 points against the Hilltoppers' first-round opponent, Drake University, and 31 points against UCLA in a loss during the Sweet 16 game. He led the Hilltoppers in assists both seasons (133 in 2006-07, 134 in 2007-08) and was second in scoring (12.8 points per game and 14.4 points per game, respectively) both years he played for the team. He also earned second-team all-Sun Belt Conference honors in 2007-08.
Brazelton earned a bachelor's degree in sociology with a minor in criminology from Western Kentucky in 2008 and currently plays professional basketball in Europe. He hopes to play professionally for another 10 years and then join the collegiate coaching ranks.
No matter where the future takes him, Brazelton said he always would remember West Plains and the Grizzlies. "I really loved my time at West Plains. I met a lot of good people and the person who eventually became my best friend, Chuck Love. The Grizzly program prepared me for success at the next level because of how high the university's academic and athletic expectations were. I'd like to give a special thanks to everyone in the community who supported me throughout my time in West Plains. I love you all, and I'll forever be a Grizzly!"