For a top ten point guard in the class of 2012, Tyler Lewis has a lot of critics, most of whom cite his lack of size at 5-11, but he's not complaining.
"I use it as motivation," Tyler said. "Whenever somebody tells you that you can’t do something, that only makes you work harder. I know I can play with the best of the best, and I’ve shown that my whole career. I just want to prove everybody wrong."
Lewis, a slick passer, took several big steps in that direction last season at Forsyth Country Day School, a private school just outside of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In three games during the Frank Spencer Tournament last December, Lewis scored 104 points, toppling the previous record set by Chris Paul.
"That was a big moment in my life, because I look up to Chris Paul and model my game after him," Lewis said. "He's the best point guard in the league, in my opinion."
Lewis said he enjoys scoring on his high school team but relishes the opportunity to facilitate others on his AAU team, Team Loaded.
"There's a big difference between high school ball and AAU ball," he said. "On my AAU team I'm surrounded by athletic teammates and we are playing better competition. Whenever you play, you want to play the best, so AAU is always fun."
Even with talent surrounding him, Lewis has shown that he is willing and able to put up big numbers
on his travel team as well. "I'm supposed to get everybody else involved, but when I need to score I'll score,” he said.
Lewis backed up those words at the Bob Gibbons AAU Tournament in May, when he put up 47 points, a career high and just three shy of the event record held by Mike Miller, against the tournament's eventual champion.
"That was a special game for me," Lewis said. "It’s definitely one of the high points of my career. I was looking forward to that game all week because one of my best friends was on the opposite team. We were trash talking all week so it was personal."
In July, Lewis decided to transfer to Oak Hill Academy in Virginia to continue his development. Initially, he had declined the offer to transfer due to his relationship with FCDS coach Craig Dawson, but ultimately Oak Hill's national schedule and star-studded team was too attractive.
"Coach Dawson was my second father basically," Lewis said. "He helped me with everything. I’m going to miss the school a lot."
Despite committing to N.C. State well before his senior year, Lewis is still trying to prove himself to the rest of the scouting and recruiting community. Lewis has been hitting the weights to improve his strength and lateral quickness.
"There's really no in between with Tyler," Dawson told the Raleigh News & Observer regarding concerns that Lewis isn't big enough. "You have people who like Tyler's game and those who don't. I love it when people criticize him because it makes him play better."
Lewis has also been working on his trash talking.
"I feel like it gives me swagger when I'm on the court," Lewis said, citing that because he is often the only white player on the court, he feels like he has to prove himself to the other players with both his talk and his walk.
Lately, Lewis' hard work has paid off with a jump in the Rivals150 ranking of the top high school prospects in the nation. In the midsummer ranking, he improved 32 spots to 54th and was ranked as the seventh-best point guard in the class. Despite his rise, Lewis said he is not infatuated with rankings.
"At the end of the day, the scouts don’t pay my scholarship," he said. "It's just someone's opinion."