‘He’s got the capabilities to do it every night:’ Longtime friend helping prepare Tyson Etienne for the future

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Marshall Sunner

Wichita State freshman Tyson Etienne listens to Isaac Green, 20, prior to the game against Cincinnati on Feb. 6 inside Charles Koch Arena. Green was Etienne's AAU coach for one season and has been friends with the guard for years. He also helps train Etienne.

Two hours prior to the Cincinnati game on Thursday, freshman guard Tyson Etienne was on the floor going through drills. It’s not abnormal for the New Jersey native to get to the arena on a game-day early and get shots up before anyone else – it’s becoming a game day ritual. But Thursday’s pregame workout was unique. Etienne’s longtime friend, Isaac Green, was on the court to go through the drills.

Green has had a unique journey. He was Etienne’s coach on the AAU circuit for one season for the PSA Cardinals, helping lead multiple college recruits – which included the No. 4 overall high school prospect Cole Anthony who now plays at North Carolina. On top of coaching, Green has also interned for the world renown NBA trainer Chirs Brickley, and through mutual connections, Etienne was invited to train in the Black Ops gym runs. But at the end of the day, Green just wants to be there for Etienne as a friend.

“Tyson’s been one of my best friends since he was in ninth grade,” Green said on Thursday. “I think it’s just important for him, you know? Get him feeling right mentally, most importantly, because physically he’s got the capabilities to do it every night. But just making sure that mentally he’s good and just be supportive.”

Even before Etienne stepped foot onto Wichita State’s campus in the summer, he cared about his mental health. After sitting down with the freshman before the season started, he mentioned that he tends to meditate three times per day, focusing on prayer, to help free his mind and relax. He preached that it helps him stay on track during the season – when his life is devoted to basketball. Once he flips the basketball switch, it’s all about two goals: winning and getting to the next level.

“He just loves to win,” Green said. “He’s (Etienne) got big dreams for himself and he makes sure his actions match those dreams every day. He’s super disciplined, and since I’ve met him that’s never wavered. It’s just cool to be able to try and help him get to where he wants to get.”

Marshall Sunner
Isaac Green, 20, watches as Wichita State freshman Tyson Etienne runs through drills two hours prior to the Cincinnati game on Feb. 6 inside Charles Koch Arena.

Etienne has proved to be vital for the Shockers this season. He’s evolved into the team’s starting shooting guard and is averaging 9.7 points per game while shooting 38% from the field. His three-point percentage ranks first on the team at 40.5%, which is also good enough for sixth-best in the American Athletic Conference. Even with a strong start to his college career, Green still believes Etienne still has unmatched potential that he hasn’t tapped into yet.

“He needs to become a little bit more of a point guard and play a little off of the bounce,” Green said. “On the defensive end, just keep competing and being a stopper and keep helping them win games.”

Marshall Sunner
Wichita State freshman Tyson Etienne shoots two hours prior to the game against Cincinnati on Feb. 6 inside Charles Koch Arena.

Head Coach Gregg Marshall knew Etienne was going to provide instant shooting support to this team from the moment he signed, even mentioning that he was one of the “purest shooters” he’s ever recruited. But Etienne’s efforts on the defensive side of the ball aren’t going unnoticed. On multiple occaasions throughout this season, Etienne has been the guy guarding the opposing team’s best player. He also has 30 steals on the season, which is the second most on the team.

Green had one explanation for his friend’s aggressiveness: an urge to win.

“He just loves to win,” Green said. “Whatever coach asks him to do, he’ll do it, he’ll accept that role with open arms and just help the team win.”

When it comes to the whole team, Green sees a bright future for WSU. He thinks the team has looked “right,” even in the recent rough patch. Overall, he’s just excited to see where this team, and his friend can go.

“They’ve (the Shockers) have a lot of good guys,” Green said. “They play well together. I think the sky’s the limit for this team, and I’m excited to see how they grow together.”

Etienne finished the night against the Bearcats with nine points on 3-5 shooting. He also had two assists, a steal, and a rebound.