By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Demetrius Denzel-Dyson couldn’t wait to make plans to spend part of his summer in Utah.
Usually a winter destination, Dyson was glad to be in Beehive State as part of the 2018 Memphis Grizzlies Summer League roster.
The Tipton County product and Covington native was one step closer to his dream of playing in the NBA. The Samford University graduate said making the Summer League roster of his hometown team is a prestigious honor.
“When I got that call Friday after Thursday’s Draft, I was going to be a part of the Summer League roster,” Dyson said. “This still feels unreal right now. Doesn’t even seem real, I’m from small town Covington, Tenn.”
Now Dyson is putting Covington and Brighton on the map after competing at both schools during his prep career.
Before graduating from Samford with a degree in Health Sciences, Dyson took his talents to the Atlantic 10’s UMass. The young men who grew up with a strong support system of God and family was heading hundreds of miles away from home.
Playing ball at Brighton Middle, Brighton High School and Covington High School, parents Maurice and Twyalla and sister Desiree were always there. Also in the stands for every game were Eric, X-zovin and Taylor Jones, Kaden Boyd and Akio Williams and his grandparents Flora Jones, Weary and Flora Dyson.
Now that support system had to make select trips up to Amherst, Mass., from 2013-15. Despite missing family and friends back home, Dyson made the best of his Division I opportunity.
“It was good to me,” he said. “It was a great two years at UMass, a learning experience. The second year goto better for me and I really didn’t want to leave. I built some great relationships at UMass and in the community.”
But limited playing time for the Minutemen made Dyson seek another opportunity and he ended up as a go-to player for Samford University Head Coach Scott Padgett.
“Sitting out that, it went by faster than I thought,” Dyson recalled. “But it made me realize how much I missed basketball and love the game. On the brighter side I had a chance to learn from Coach Scott Padgett who played in the NBA and from a good coaching staff.
“I had to chance to work in their system and learn what they expected out of me,” he continued. “I mentally approved my game and got tougher.”
The 2016-17 season was Dyson’s best on the college level averaging 16 point a game. He admitted before his first game with the Bulldogs he was nervous.
“I didn’t know what to expect because the last time I played my game was in high school,” he acknowledged. “I wondered if I could play free and let it come to me. That first game I scored 20 points against San Diego.”
Dyson adjusted quickly to his new home in Homewood, Ala. He used his formula of being an high-percentage shooter to impress his coaches and the opposition of the SoCon.
Dyson earned third-team All-SoCon selections and tallied 580 points his junior campaign. The Bulldogs reached the 20-win mark.
The success of 2016-17 led to Dyson being named Preseason All-SoCon and the Bulldogs were picked to finish first. But injured derailed those plans with Dyson playing multiple positions throughout his senior season. He managed to average 15 points and 5 rebounds this past season.
Those stats gained the attention of NBA scouts putting Dyson on their radar. Then in June he received a call from the Grizzlies to come for workout. Dyson must have impressed the Memphis brass June 4 getting a call to return a couple days later.
Fast forward to the day after the June 21 NBA Draft, Dyson got the call from the Grizzlies he made the summer team. The Grizzlies left for Utah June 27 to kickoff things July 2-5 in Utah. Then it will onto Las Vegas later this month for all 30 NBA teams.
Dyson said success stories like Ian Clark, current New Orleans Pelican, will motivate him while out West. Clark is playing regularly in the NBA after going undrafted. Dyson has worked out with other local NBA hopefuls like Lester Hudson and Jarnell Stokes. He has even received counsel from former NBA All-Star Penny Hardaway.
If Dyson makes the Grizzlies he will joined the lineage of professionals in his family like Rodney Carney (basketball at Memphis and professionally overseas), Ramon Foster (football at Tennessee and in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers), Renardo Foster (football at Louisville) and Ron Slay (basketball at Tennessee and professionally overseas).
He said his family has reminded him where to place his trust during this process.
“I have to keep God first and talk to him during this process,” he said. “As far as basketball, Memphis is about grit and grind. I can shoot, so I just have to so the small things like diving on the floor for loose balls and hustling. I have to do whatever it takes to win.
“I have to do the mental part and pay attention,” Dyson concluded. “I have to be like a sponge and soak in as much as possible. I even have to learn how to do what I can do well better. God has given me my skills and blessed me with a great support system. All the credit goes to Him and all I have to do is put my trust in Him. He has put me in this great position.”
Dyson was cut from the Memphis Grizzlies Summer League team last week bringing his NBA dream to a temporary stop for the summer of 2018.