‘It’s part of the journey:’ Etienne utilizes NBA Draft experience in return to WSU


Sophomore Tyson Etienne points toward a teammate during the exhibition game against Missouri Southern State on Nov. 4 inside Charles Koch Arena.

Tyson Etienne isn’t your typical college student – or even college athlete.

Etienne wakes up every morning and meditates. He’s known for his early morning workouts and relentless pursuit of getting better. He’s also on a strict diet and also has found outlets such as photography to keep his mind free.

“What I want to do and what I plan to do in the game of basketball, this is something that I work for,” Etienne said. “I plan to be the top guy on everybody’s scouting list and I embrace that. It’s part of the journey. In order to be great you have to prepare yourself knowing that team’s are going to try and stop you.”

Etienne is fresh off a breakout sophomore season, where he took home American Athletic Conference Player of the Year, while leading WSU back to the NCAA Tournament. Etienne remains motivated, partly due to how he ended the season.

The worst game of Etienne’s sophomore season happened to come in the most important game of the season. He scored one point in WSU’s heartbreaking loss to Drake in the NCAA Tournament, ending the Shockers’ season. Etienne still believes that if he played better in that game, he wouldn’t still be in Wichita. He’d be in the NBA. 

Sophomore Tyson Etienne looks to drive during the exhibition game against Missouri Southern State on Nov. 4 inside Charles Koch Arena. (Sean Marty / The Sunflower)

Etienne declared for the NBA Draft a few months after that game. He participated in pre-draft workouts with the Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns, Toronto Raptors, Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, and New York Knicks, while being close to achieving his childhood dream.

But Etienne decided to come back to WSU because he still believes he’s got more to accomplish with the Shockers.

“For me, what I mainly took away from that was just knowing that I belong,” Etienne said. “For a while, if you’d ask me if I’d be in this type of situation five years ago, I would’ve looked at you like you were crazy. To go through that experience and to work for the teams that I worked out for, it was definitely a great experience.”

Although Etienne is now one of the top players in college basketball, he still believes he’s got more to learn and achieve at the collegiate level.

“While I could’ve remained in the draft, I felt like taking all that knowledge, gaining more experience, and continuing to brush up on some skills is going to serve me better in the long run,” Etienne said. “Just to have that experience was great and I feel like it’s equipped me well.”

Sophomore Tyson Etienne calls a play during the exhibition game against Missouri Southern State on Nov. 4 inside Charles Koch Arena.

Etienne said he picked up a few tools during the draft process so that now he feels more prepared heading into his third season.

“My preparation has gone up another level,” Etienne said. “I was doing things that I wasn’t doing last year. Going through the draft process, I learned even more tips and tricks that I’ve incorporated into my routine.”

Head coach Isaac Brown said that Etienne’s journey is due to the work he’s put in since he arrived in Wichita as a freshman.

“He’s the first guy in the gym and the last guy to leave,” head coach Isaac Brown said. “He’s a hard worker, he’s always staying after practice and getting up shots. He’s always asking questions on ‘how can I get better offensively and defensively, what do I need to add to my game?’ He’s one of those guys who seems like he’s getting better every season.”

In this year’s preseason poll, the Shockers were picked to finish in fourth place despite winning the regular season title a year ago. Etienne said that is one of the many reasons he’s motivated heading into this season, with the end goal of a national championship.

“I do intend for this to be my last year in college so just the motivation to continue to get better, be able to provide for my family but also leave Wichita as a winner,” Etienne said. “We won the conference title but we didn’t win the conference tournament, we didn’t win the national championship and those are things I want to win.”

Etienne’s sophomore year was one of the best by a Shocker in recent years. He started all 22 games and averaged 16.3 points and a school-record 2.95 threes (18th nationally) on 39.2% accuracy. He was also ranked among the AAC leaders in threes-per-game (2nd).

Etienne said that he’s going to be in the moment when it comes to the future and is focused on his career at WSU.

“I’m going to be in the moment,” Etienne said. “The NBA’s going to come, I trust in that and I know that. But for me, I’m here to make Wichita State continue to be great, get wins and I’m going to play my role and do that. My focus is on my team, my focus is on bringing us back to the tournament and just helping any way I can for us to be successful.”