BIDWELL, Ohio — Adversity has a way of revealing one’s true character.
Tyler Twyman’s misfortunes only proved that a lot of people were wrong.
The 6-foot River Valley senior guard fulfilled his dream of playing college basketball at RVHS on Thursday, May 19, when he signed a letter of intent with the Davis and Elkins College Senators in Elkins, W.Va.
Twyman — one of only two boys to surpass 1,000 career points during his tenure with the Raiders — battled through playing in two different leagues and having three varsity coaches during his four years in the Silver and Black, not to mention suffering a terrible knee injury during the summer before his senior campaign.
A four-year starter at River Valley, the two-time All-Ohio Valley Conference and two-time All-Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division selection finished his high school hoops career with 1,099 points — second only to Joey James in the program’s two-plus decades of existence.
Still, the three-time District 13 and three-time Associated Press All-Southeast District selection never doubted that he could play basketball at the collegiate level — despite what some people in other circles may have thought or expressed.
After working his way back onto the court late into his senior season, Twyman was ultimately able to silence his critics while proving that his passion for basketball was never stronger.
And, as Twyman said himself, the main people to thank for that fortitude were at home.
“My mom and dad have always taught from day one that you have to work hard for what you want and what you want to achieve, so I do want to thank them for instilling that in me at a very early age,” Twyman said. “I’ve been told that I wasn’t tall enough, not strong enough, not athletic enough or that I wasn’t always going to be the best shooter on the floor, but I think my work ethic helped set me apart from most others. I’ve spent a lot of time in the gym trying to become the best player I could be, and today is a reward for all of that effort.”
After going though so many ups and downs during his high school career, Twyman couldn’t help but take a deep breath and smile on Thursday. After all, he knows there is plenty of time to get serious over the next few years.
“It’s kind of unreal to have this opportunity, but I also know that all of the hard work and support has led to this moment,” Twyman said. “Right now I can sit back, relax and be happy about it, but I also know another four years of hard work is coming and I am tremendously thankful to have this opportunity.”
Twyman is the only RVHS boys player to ever be named All-OVC in hoops as a freshman and those all-league honors never stopped rolling in. But, after tearing his ACL last year in a local 3-on-3 outdoor tournament, winning a fourth all-league honor and reaching 1,000 points were the furthest things on his mind.
He missed roughly 10 games during his senior season and constantly had to be aware of how his knee was holding up, but he ultimately completed his individual goals one by one.
He also noted that he learned quite a bit about himself, the game of basketball and life itself during the last six-plus months of 2015.
“When I got hurt last summer, I really realized not to ever take anything for granted. There was a lot of hard work to put in everyday just to get back out on that floor for my senior year,” Twyman said. “Through all of the struggles to get back out there to the game I love, I learned quite a bit about respecting the moment and not taking anything for granted. I think I’m a better player and person because of those hardships.”
Twyman is not just a dumb jock that specializes in basketball, but rather a well-versed young man that is involved in many extra-curricular activities.
Twyman carries a 4.0 grade-point average and is a four-year member of the BETA Club, as well as serving two years as a Freshman Focus mentor and is also a two-year member of the National Honor Society.
Twyman is also involved with the LEO Club, Student Council, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and is a member of the Business Professionals Association at RVHS.
Twyman was also a three-time letterwinner in football, but his knee injury prevented him from taking part in the Raiders’ first-ever appearance in the playoffs.
Out of respect for their fallen comrade, River Valley had a different player wear Twyman’s jersey (No. 1) each week on the gridiron.
Twyman acknowledged that it was tough to watch all of that history being made from the sidelines, but he also noted that he felt as included as anyone by both the coaching staff and his teammates. That was also something that helped him get through those tough times.
“It was special to see what those guys did during football season. It was hard for me to not be out there and I did tear up a bit when I saw that they made the playoffs, but I was also very happy for my friends and teammates that they got to have that experience,” Twyman said. “I learned how much love and respect that they had for me during those 11 weeks and I am very fortunate to have such good friends throughout the years.
“It was a special moment for me seeing those guys play in Week 11 and I’m glad that each of them was able to have that moment for themselves. Even though I wasn’t out there with them, it was special just to be part of that with them.”
Twyman plans on majoring in Sports Management and is looking forward to his upcoming time with the Red, White and Black. He also noted that Elkins and Davis College has a very high rate of helping its graduates find jobs, which factored into his final decision.
Tyler is the son of Brandon and Trenia Twyman of Vinton, Ohio. Tyler also has a brother, Rory, and a sister, Lauren.
Founded in 1904, Davis and Elkins College is a member of the NCAA Division II Great Midwest Athletic Conference.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.