A new chapter outside basketball
After making a career for himself as a three-point shooting specialist for the UC Davis Men’s basketball team, Tyler Les is graduating and hanging up his blue and white uniform. What was previously daily attire is now a memory of a lifetime for Les, who describes his collegiate basketball experience as nothing short of rewarding.
Les gave an outstanding performance during the 2014-15 season, making a total of 65 three-point field goals after taking a redshirt in 2013-14. With a career grand total of 209 three-point field goals, the son of head basketball coach Jim Les leaves the Aggie team ranked second among all active Big West players for career three-pointers, and holds the record for most-threes in a single game.
Les, a sociology major, began his collegiate basketball journey with the Aggies in 2010. Moving to California from Peoria, Illinois was an “easy adjustment” for this player, who quickly fell in love with the ambiance and “free-flowing” people of the West Coast. Following a humble introduction to the sport, playing 25 games for an average of seven minutes each during his first season, Les quickly rose to the occasion. During his sophomore year, he finished with 82 three-pointers, just one short of UC Davis’s single-season school record.
Les details his best memory in basketball taking place this season, when the Aggies took the conference title following a five-point deficit at the half against UC Riverside.
“I think that [this] was the highlight of any basketball moment I’ve had. It took a lot of work, and it was a long time,” said Les. “A lot of tough times went into having that. But it all seemed worth it in that moment when we won the conference.”
Les relays gratitude towards his father for sparking his interest in the sport as a child.
“My dad played professionally and I’ve always admired the way that he played, just watching film on him. He was the hardest worker out there, playing his butt off every night, making the hustle plays. I’ve always admired people who are unbelievably skilled,” said Les. “He put me in other sports, but I was always drawn to basketball. There’s a video of me shooting hoops and I can barely walk.”
While not looking to continue basketball professionally, Les describes a lifelong connection to the sport.
“[Basketball] is a big part of who I am,” said Les. “A lot of the life lessons I’ve learned and the qualities I’ve developed have come from basketball: being a hard worker, being a good teammate. I think this level of ‘respecting what you do and it respecting you back’ is a big part of how I live my life.”
After the final hurrah in the semifinals of the Big West against the University of Hawaii in March, Les looks forward to “starting a new chapter” outside of basketball. Les will remain in California following graduation and looks forward to starting a career in sales. The destination, while uncertain, is one that Les humbly awaits.
Graphic by Camilla Dayrit.