Tyrone Wallace Last, but Not Least in the NBA Draft

Jan 14, 2016; Stanford, CA, USA; California Golden Bears guard Tyrone Wallace (3) takes a free throw against the Stanford Cardinal in the 2nd half at Maples Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 14, 2016; Stanford, CA, USA; California Golden Bears guard Tyrone Wallace (3) takes a free throw against the Stanford Cardinal in the 2nd half at Maples Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports /

Tyrone Wallace watched and waited for a long time, but his name was finally called when the Utah Jazz made the final selection in the draft.

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The boyhood dream is one step closer to being realized. Former California Golden Bears’ point guard Tyrone Wallace’s goal has always been to play in the NBA, and after Thursday, he’s that much closer to achieving that goal. In the NBA Draft, Wallace was taken with the 60th pick, the last pick of the draft, by the Utah Jazz.

After four years at Cal, during which he was a major piece in turning the Golden Bears from also-rans to contenders in the Pac-12, Wallace is moving on to his next journey, and it won’t be easy. It never is easy for a player taken with the last pick in any draft to make it in their sport, but Wallace always had his nose to the grindstone in college. He’ll need to keep that attitude as he attempts to find his way into the NBA.

Wallace’s journey is made even more difficult, as the Jazz have four point guards already on the roster: Trey Burke, Dante Exum, Shelvin Mack, and Raul Neto.

In his four years in Berkeley, Wallace became the heart and soul of the Bears’ team and is one of the school’s best all-around players. He’s currently the only player in school history to rank in the top-10 in scoring (eighth with 1,613 points), assists (sixth with 437), and steals (seventh with 139), and is also 13th with 676 rebounds.

He became a key contributor in his sophomore year, the 2013-2014 season, finishing second on the team in steals (1.3) and assists (2.7), and third in scoring (11.3) and rebounding (4.1).

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He had a real breakout of sorts in his junior year, leading the Bears in scoring (17.1), rebounds (7.1), assists (4.0), and steals (1.3). Wallace’s draft stock was fairly high at that point, and while he considered foregoing his senior year as the NBA beckoned, he decided to come back for his last year of eligibility to keep a promise he made to his late grandfather and get his degree.

Wallace enjoyed another nice season in 2015-2016, leading the team in scoring (15.3), assists (4.4), and steals (1.0) again, and finishing third in rebounding (5.3), but the season, and his college career, ended on a highly disappointing note.

With Cal in the NCAA Tournament, getting the highest seed in school history at number four, expectations were very high for the Golden Bears. But before the team could even take the court against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors in their first-round matchup, he suffered a broken bone in his hand during practice. That kept him out of the school’s first NCAA Tournament game in four seasons. Cal was bounced in the first round, ending their tournament hopes, and Wallace’s Cal tenure, prematurely.

That should act as just a little more motivation for the 22-year-old Bakersfield native.

Wallace has a skillset that teams should like in the Association. He’s tall, standing at 6’6″, which gives him extremely long limbs for his position. That, combined with his speed, leads to him playing solid defense, and gives him the ability to defend multiple positions. Offensively, the natural left-hander can drive with both hands, and has a knack for getting to the rim. He’s also a good facilitator, using his driving ability to find open men on the wings.

With his size, he could potentially move to shooting guard, or possibly even small forward, but his skillset doesn’t necessarily fit in those spots. He doesn’t have a very polished outside shot, shooting just 29.2 percent (118-404) from three-point range. His shot isn’t the prettiest the game has ever seen, but it’s most certainly not completely beyond repair. With some work and good coaching, he can become more consistent at the next level. But at this point in his career, he’s much more of a slasher and scorer than a shooter.

He wasn’t a great free throw shooter either, hitting at just a 61.3 percent rate (329-537). He did, however, have a knack for hitting big free throws at clutch spots.

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Wallace’s road isn’t paved in gold, but it’s never been that way for him. He’s worked hard every step of the way, and this is just one more step for him. After watching him give it all for the Bears for four years, every Bears’ fan will be behind him, cheering him on the entire way.