At 6-foot-7, 300 pounds, the Buccaneers' Ty'Rion Denson isn't you're average big man.
Ty’Rion Denson doesn’t fit into the typical “big man box” — although previous coaches have always tried to squeeze him into it.
Denson is 6-foot-7 and weighs 300 pounds. But he tries not to relegate himself to playing just inside the paint. That’s not to say he can’t or doesn’t post up defenders on the low block. It’s actually one of the most effective parts of his game. But he’s more than that.
He has the flash.
A quick YouTube search of Ty’Rion Denson reveals that.
“I just want to show people that no matter what size you are, you can do anything you want to."
TY'RION DENSON, Mainland basketball player
Denson has done videos with popular basketball YouTube channels Overtime, HoopDiamonds, CityLeagueHoopsTV and more. Some videos, like “Ty’Rion Denson STILL BREAKING ANKLES,” have more than 1 million views.
They show his crafty dribble moves, his shiftiness, his lightning quick first step and his shooting touch.
His play, which has garnered attention since he was in seventh grade, has earned him the nickname Baby Escalade after the late Troy Jackson, also known as Escalade, who despite being 6-foot-10 and weighing nearly 500 pounds, became an American street ball legend through the AND1 Mixtape Tour in the early 2000s.
In addition to studying Jackson’s moves, Denson has also tried to pattern his game after NBA greats Kyrie Irving and Allen Iverson.
He spent much of his time growing up looking up YouTube videos on how to do crossovers and other dribble moves. He would then practice them in his front yard before gathering the courage to implement them in a game.
“I always just wanted to break people’s ankles,” he said.
Denson grew up in Orlando and played at both Colonial High School and Hagerty High School. He was used to previous coaches shouting at him to stay in the paint or to stop dribbling.
“I used to take that as motivation,” he said.
Denson believed he needed a change of scenery entering his junior year. He transferred to Mainland High School before the start of the 2019-20 school year. His mother, Felicia Ross, played basketball for the Buccaneers and graduated from the school in 1986.
Although he had to sit out the first half of the season due to transfer rules, he quickly fell in love with the program. His first game was a 72-38 win over Pine Ridge on Jan. 13. Denson had 13 points and 8 rebounds.
“I like the energy around here,” he said. “There’s a lot of love.”
Mainland head coach Joe Giddens was familiar with Denson even before his transfer. He’d seen the YouTube videos.
“I was wowed,” Giddens said. “For a guy that size who can move like that and has footwork like that, that’s special. I thought he had a lot of upside and he could be a good asset to our program.”
In some respects, Denson reminds Giddens of the Buccaneers’ Johnny Brown, a versatile forward, who graduated last year.
“I had the luxury of having Johnny Brown the past couple of years,” Giddens said. “Now, you bring in someone like this who I’m going to have for about two years. He’s going to be even better next year.”
He added: “We’re starting to get into the thick of things with our schedule. I think he’s going to be able to help us and be a difference for our team going forward.”
Denson has many goals he wants to achieve in his remaining time in high school. He wants to get good grades, he wants to garner attention from colleges and he wants to win a state title.
But more than that, he wants to leave behind a lasting legacy.
“I just want to show people that no matter what size you are, you can do anything you want to,” he said.