It didn’t feel good when Tyler Herro’s classmates called him a snake when he decommitted from Wisconsin.
The 6-foot-5, 195-pound shooting guard from Milwaukee was committed to the Badgers for 13 months but as he blew up during the summer heading into his junior season, Herro knew he could have more options. He initially picked Wisconsin over DePaul and Marquette.
“I wanted to play somewhere bigger than that,” Herro said. “Obviously not a lot of people get the opportunity to play at somewhere like Kentucky. When I got the call that I could play here, why not? I know I’m good enough, work hard, play with a group of guys like this that have the same goal as me, get to the NBA at the end of the day, that’s really what went into it.”
Prior to committing to Wisconsin, Herro did earn an offer from Oregon and Arizona, more prestigious schools than other schools on his list, but after decommitting from Wisconsin in the fall of 2017 he started hearing from Kentucky, Villanova and Kansas.
Herro said while making the best decision for him and his family, disappointed Badger fans turned on him.
He admitted that it took some getting used to during his senior year.
“It was a little difficult at the very beginning,” Herro said. “Even kids from my own school were calling me a snake and this and that. At the end of the day it’s whatever is best for me and my family and friends. So, I think I made the right decision obviously and I’m ready to get started.”
Herro joked he’s the most hated man in Wisconsin and that hate will likely only intensify if he thrives at Kentucky. After just four games in the Bahamas it seems like Herro is heading in the right direction.
“I always expect to play pretty well,” Herro said. “I knew it was going to be a little bit different but going out there and playing at my best is what I try to do and I think I played pretty well.”
The freshman led Kentucky in scoring with 17.3 points per game. He was 8 of 18 from behind the arc and the rest of UK’s team combined for 18 of 50. Not only was Herro dangerous from outside, he surprised UK fans and national media alike by being able to attack the rim. Only three players went to the line more than Herro and Kentucky fans loved what Herro did from the charity stripe. He didn’t miss. 15 made attempted free throws and 15 makes.
While Wisconsin fans may hate him, Herro said he was more popular in Lexington after the Bahamas.
“Everybody started to know me on campus,” Herro said. “A lot of people wanted to take pictures and autographs wherever I go, so I mean, it was like that home but not as much as it is here. It was definitely different.”
Herro doesn’t have folks licking his car just yet, but if he plays as well for UK this season as he did in the Bahamas, he will be a rockstar on Kentucky’s campus.
But he seemed more excited being on a team of other great players that help make him better.
“I think we have a group of guys that are willing to do their role, whatever Coach Cal wants,” Herro said. “We all listen and we all really work hard.”
And it would have never came to fruition if Herro stayed committed to the Badgers. He wasn’t the only Wildcat that originally planned to play elsewhere. Freshmen E.J. Montgomery and Ashton Hagans were committed to other schools before eventually picking the Cats and Reid Travis played four years for Stanford before enrolling at UK.
“It definitely would have been different,” Herro said. “EJ also decommitted…. If Reid doesn’t come it’s different. We definitely need every piece that we have to be the No. 1 team in the country or whatever it may be, but with the group of guys that we have we’re definitely in a good position.”
And as for the haters in Wisconsin, Herro has moved on and is looking forward to the upcoming season.
“At the end of the day Kentucky is where I wanted to be,” Herro said.
Check out the rest of KSR’s 2018-19 Basketball Preview Series: