Tom Batters
Tylon Deal

Tylon Deal gets his basketball skills from his dad, and his cool demeanor from his mom.

 “He’s been pretty calm,” said Deal’s father, John, after Richwoods beat Chicago Marshall Friday in the Class 3A semifinal. “He must get that from his mother. I’ve been more nervous than he has been. All week, I’ve been tense, and Tylon has been his same cool self.”

 Tylon Deal, the 6’1” senior guard for the Knights, who went on to lose in the state championship game Saturday, was recently voted a Class 3A first team all-state selection by the Associated Press.

 His dad called that a “beautiful thing.”

 “I’m so proud of him,” he said. “You have no idea how hard he worked to get this far. He would shoot 250 to 300 shots a day before school. He never lost sight of his goals. He has a lot of talent, but his hard work is what made him such a great player.”

 John Deal, who played at Manual with David Booth and a few other great players in the 1980s, coached his son, Tylon, and fellow Richwoods senior guard Aaron Davis from second grade through seventh grade.

 “Tylon and AD (Davis) are best friends. They’re like brothers. And, Mason (Alwan), too. They are like the three amigos,” Deal said. “They know each other so well, and they play hard for each other.”

 Tylon Deal led the Knights in scoring (12 points per game) and was one of the leaders of this team.

 He was often the “go-to guy” for coach Mike Ellis.

Whenever the Knights had the ball with less than a minute left in the game or in a quarter, Ellis usually drew up a play that would create a seam (it didn’t need to be a big one) that Deal could penetrate for a layup.

Deal’s quick first step, solid ball handling, and ability to finish made him the perfect choice. If the seam was not there, Deal could just pull up and hit an eight-foot jumper.

 Deal scored baskets at the :01 mark at the end of the first and third quarters in the Supersectional win over Oswego.

 He also has a knack for turning it up when the heat rises.

 He scored 12 points in the fourth quarter in the Regional title win over Peoria Central March 5.

As the hungry Lions rallied and almost overtook the Knights, Deal stayed steady and played a flawless fourth quarter. He made all four of his free throws and locked down Central’s Bobo Drummond.

 “People notice how much he can score,” John Deal said. “But, I hope they notice his defense, too. He can play a great game of defense.”

 On the court, Deal shows signs of his father’s intense coaching mentality. He did not shy away from being the vocal leader.

All season long, he spoke about how seriously he took his leadership role and how his teammates were counting on him to lead the way.

 Off the court, he exudes his mother’s quiet politeness and his father’s generous smile.

 “Me and Tylon had our difficulties on the court, because we’re both stubborn,” John Deal said. “But, you won’t find a better kid.”

 His mother, Tomico Deal, said she is proud of the way Tylon handled the ups and downs this season.

 “When he hurt his knee (in December), he didn’t let it bother him too much. He just did what he had to do to come back,” she said. “He’s handled all this attention (of making it to the state finals and being named a first-team all-stater) really well. He hasn’t let it go to his head. He’s the same good kid he was before this year started.”