By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
Three years ago, Madison Southern coach Shane Buttry traveled to Lexington to watch a pair of 11th Region opponents — Madison Central and Lafayette.
During that game, he was particularly impressed with the play of a freshman point guard.
“I was like, ‘Wow! That kid can play,’” Buttry said.
That kid was Tyler Abshear.
And at that moment, Buttry had no idea that Abshear would eventually end up playing for Southern.
The point guard transferred from Madison Central following his sophomore season and has been a dominating force for the Eagles the past two years.
In two seasons at Southern, Abshear has scored 1,216 points in just 56 games. This year, the senior has helped lead the Eagles to 17-10 record, while averaging 22 points a game and leading the team in rebounds.
“It was definitely hard,” Abshear said of leaving Central. “One of my best friends, Scott Brandenburg, he decided to transfer and we had grown up together. So, when he decided to go, I went with him just to be with him.”
Buttry was pleasantly surprised when he found out two years ago Abshear was transferring to Southern.
“I came back from vacation and someone kept leaving me messages and I didn’t know who it was,” Buttry said. “Finally, I listened to the messages and it was Tyler’s dad. I was glad to hear that.”
Abshear played two seasons at Central and made an impact for the Indians. But, after standout Dominique Hawkins was moved full-time to point guard, he saw his role begin to change.
Abshear felt more comfortable running the offense — and Southern needed a point guard.
It was a perfect fit.
“I’m glad I came here,” Abshear said. “There was no disrespect meant toward anyone.”
Abshear’s family moved to Berea, which allowed him to play right away at Southern. He made an immediate impact, averaging 21.3 points a game as the Eagles went 10-20 and advanced to the 11th Region Tournament.
This season, Abshear has taken his game to another level. The senior is averaging 4.9 rebounds, 2.8 steals and 2.6 assists a game.
“He will score 25 points a game and then some nights he’s on the other team’s best player,” Buttry said. “He’s asked to do so many things and he does that. I’ve been here 19 years and he’s as good as anyone we’ve had here.”
Abshear credits his improved plays as a senior to offseason workouts with Southern assistant Brian Reppert.
“It’s been great,” Abshear said. “I felt confident at the beginning of the season that we were going to have a good year. I tried to pick up my play in the offseason and I think that’s where it started.”
Not even a pretty serious injury has been able to slow down the senior point guard this season.
He injured his left shoulder prior to a game with Rockcastle County on Jan. 22 in Berea. The senior fought through the pain and scored 30 points in a 73-56 win.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Buttry said of Abshear’s performance against Rockcastle. “He came to school and told me he couldn’t raise his arm. He tried to brush his teeth and it was killing him. He shot the ball with one arm.”
The senior didn’t miss a game and his play this season has started to draw the attention of college coaches. Abshear is getting interest from several schools, including Lincoln Memorial.
“He can play (in college),” Madison Central coach Allen Feldhaus said. “There’s no doubt.”
Southern is set to return to action today against Model in the semifinals of the 44th District Tournament. Game time is set for 8:15 p.m.
The winner advances to face Madison Central in Friday’s championship game.