Tyler Herro. A name Wisconsin sports fans have come to know quite well the past few years– and not for very favorable reasons.
His decommitment from Wisconsin’s men’s basketball program in favor of Kentucky left a sour taste in fans’ mouths. On top of that, he and his Miami Heat knocked the Bucks out of the NBA bubble in 2020, killing chances of bringing a title back to Milwaukee.
Herro hails from Greenfield, WI, a suburb of Milwaukee. He attended Whitnall High School in Greenfield and graduated in 2018. Herro excelled on the basketball court during his prep career, receiving a plethora of D1 scholarships. A consensus 4-star recruit, ESPN and 247 Sports ranked him as the number one player in Wisconsin.
As a true freshman, Herro led Whitnall in scoring with just under 16 points a game. He made big strides as a sophomore, averaging 24 points per game while shooting 50% from the field and 40% from deep. He had gained attention from big name programs, and on Christmas Eve in 2015, Wisconsin officially offered Tyler Herro a scholarship, not even halfway through his sophomore season.
Herro eclipsed the 1,000 point mark as a sophomore during the 2016 WIAA Division 2 state tournament the following March, a feat usually accomplished only by juniors and seniors. On September 12, 2016, Herro verbally committed to Wisconsin, his home state school.
Herro battled a knee injury as a junior, only playing in 13 games, which limited his production. He averaged 23.2 points a game while shooting 55% from the field. Badger fans were treated to a show while watching their home state kid. Thinking about his future (especially in Madison) was fun to do. Well, for a while…
From Herro to Zero
On October 17, 2017 — more than a year after he had committed and less than a month away from signing day — Herro decommitted from Wisconsin.
Badger fans were shocked, confused, and upset. He was supposed to be the next Sam Dekker. A Wisconsin boy who stayed home, lived out iconic moments in Madison, and moved on to the NBA. Arguably, there hadn’t been as much excitement and anticipation surrounding a recruit in Madison since Dekker.
But with one tweet, the love turned to hate. On November 14, 2017, Herro committed and signed his letter of intent to play for John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats. This didn’t sit well with Badger fans.
Herro was called a snake, overrated, and disloyal, and apparently things got pretty ugly. According to Bleacher Report, some fans spray-painted “F*** BBN! GO WISCONSIN” in his yard. Herro claims he even received death threats.
His high school senior season started right after his signing, and he was constantly heckled at games by opposing teams’ fans. People would bring stuffed-animal snakes and posters with Herro’s face on a snake’s body. It got to him; he saw what people were saying, and he responded.
However, Herro put up big numbers his senior year, averaging 32.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, both team highs. He capped off his impressive high school career with 2,036 career points and All-state honors.
Herro later revealed his reasoning for decommitting from Wisconsin was wanting to play for “a blue blood program.” And, well, he certainly got that in Kentucky.
Though his collegiate career was brief, he made an immediate impact in his one year with the Wildcats. He averaged 14.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. He led the team in made 3-pointers, and was second in scoring, assists, and steals.
Herro helped lead Kentucky to an Elite Eight appearance. He earned numerous awards and accolades, including multiple SEC Freshman of the Week honors, and he was named to the SEC second-team and all-freshman team.
To Zero… Again
On April 12, 2019, Tyler Herro officially declared for the NBA Draft. In June of that year, the Miami Heat selected Herro with the 13th pick in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft.
Herro played well during his rookie season, but nobody imagined what was to come later in his first season — for the world or him. The COVID-19 pandemic hit and forced the NBA to cancel all games indefinitely mid-season in March of 2020. On July 30, the season finally resumed inside the “bubble” at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.
Herro popped off during the Heat’s time in the bubble. Before entering the bubble to resume the season, Herro averaged 13.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.0 per game. He averaged 16.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 29 games in the 2020 NBA bubble.
His play helped lift the Heat to the Finals. On their way to the Finals, they busted the Milwaukee Bucks’ bubble. Literally. The 5th seeded Heat upset the number one seeded Bucks, the NBA’s best regular-season team, in five games.
Many people thought 2020 would finally be the year the Bucks would bring the NBA title back to Milwaukee. But alas, Herro — the kid from Milwaukee — was a big reason why the Bucks were sent back to Wisconsin empty handed.
More pain for Wisconsin sports fans at the hands of Tyler Herro.
What Could Have Been
It’s hard not to imagine what things would be like today if Tyler Herro had stayed committed to Wisconsin and eventually played for the Badgers.
To start, the end of his high school career would have played out much differently. He would have been celebrated instead of tormented at every game.
I also can’t help but think that he would have won Wisconsin’s prestigious Mister Basketball award. Instead, Herro’s close friend and AAU teammate Jordan McCabe took home the honors.
That 2018 class was extremely stacked, including Herro, McCabe, Joey Hauser, and John Diener, but objectively, Herro was probably the best player.
His stats showed it, too; Herro averaged over 6 points a game more than McCabe did. I believe that Herro’s decommitment left a sour taste in the voters’ mouths, and they chose to give the award to someone who hadn’t blatantly disrespected the home state program.
Tyler Herro would have had an immediate impact on Wisconsin’s men’s basketball program. I believe he would have been a day one starter and a big contributor. He would have played his first season alongside All-American and Badger great Ethan Happ.
Wisconsin finished 23-11 overall and 14-6 in the Big Ten that season. Would Herro have propelled them to win a few more games? I think so. They lost a lot of close ones, and I think Herro could’ve helped push them over the edge.
In addition, I think the Badgers would’ve been given a higher seed in the tournament and made a pretty deep run. Maybe the Sweet 16? The talent was definitely there, especially with the addition of Herro.
If Herro had stayed in college, he’d be entering his senior year and season. If he’d remained a Badger, who knows if he would have entered the NBA before his eligibility was up (like Sam Dekker) or chosen to stay and use all of his eligibility (like Frank Kaminsky)?
Insight from a Twitter Exchange…
Herro thinks he would have stayed at Wisconsin, but not because he really wanted to. In a Twitter conversation with former Badger Zak Showalter in January 2020, Herro implied that playing for Wisconsin wouldn’t have prepared him to play in the NBA like playing for Kentucky had.
After Showalter said he’d wanted Herro to go to Wisconsin, Herro responded saying, “Appreciate you, but I’d still be at Wisconsin” instead of in the NBA like he was at the time.
Showalter responded with, “Possibly, but idk. You different.” Herro then provided a little more insight into his decision to leave Wisconsin for Kentucky, saying, “The states top talent would love to play for Wisconsin but not in that system. I think you can agree?”
Had Herro remained a Badger, it’s difficult to gauge if he really wouldn’t have been as successful in the NBA as he has been. Wisconsin has produced NBA players, but certainly not at the level and success rate Kentucky has. Still, Herro has talent, and I believe he would have made it to the NBA regardless of what school he chose to play for in college.
Nigel Hayes… Against Wisconsin?
Surprisingly, one of the loudest people in Herro’s ear encouraging him to decommit from Wisconsin was Badger star Nigel Hayes. “This is going to make some people mad. I was one of the ones who advised him not to go to Wisconsin with the talent he has,” Hayes revealed. “I told him the only people who are upset with him are the ones who are selfish. Only way he can thrive is not walking around thinking he’s less than. He’s a growing seed.”
Hearing Hayes say that Herro was too talented to go to Wisconsin stings a little. However, it’s easy to see what he’s referring to. Kentucky is known as a one-and-done program; the complete opposite of Wisconsin. Kids choose Kentucky as a quick stepping stone to the pros, whereas the Badgers pride themselves on growing talent over time through years in the program.
So, if Herro’s goal was to only play one collegiate season and then move on to the NBA, I guess he made the right decision.
Tyler Herro is living out his NBA dreams and recently completed his second NBA season.
The Bucks got revenge on Herro and the Heat this season, knocking the “bubble frauds” out of the playoffs in the first round. In addition, Milwaukee went on to win their first NBA title in 50 years, fulfilling the “Bucks in 6” prophecy.
Tyler and his Instagram model girlfriend Katya Elise Henry recently announced they’re expecting a child together. Congratulations to them!
And Wisconsin won a Big Ten championship in 2020.
It seems both parties have been successful without each other. At least some positives have come out of what was an ugly situation.
We’ll never know exactly what would have been if Tyler Herro had stayed committed to the Badgers. But we do know something: Tyler is certainly not a Herro in the eyes of most Wisconsin sports fans.
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