Senior point guard Tyler Gerber’s basketball career began at the age of two. He soon moved on from the toy basketball hoop — a gift from his grandfather — to the local “biddy ball” program.
He’s been playing ever since.
“My parents kind of pushed me. I really loved playing basketball,” Gerber said. “It’s something I wanted to continue on.”
Gerber began playing on an American Athletic Union basketball team in sixth grade. AAU gave him the opportunity to travel all over the nation and even to Italy.
“I pretty much did anything and everything basketball,” he said.
John Tharp, men’s head basketball coach, first discovered Gerber at a tournament in Las Vegas.
“I’ll never forget the way he competed. He was a fierce competitor,” Tharp said. “The way he led that team — I was really fired up about him.”
Gerber received an offer from Tharp and the Hillsdale College basketball program soon after the tournament. Not long after that, he visited campus.
“When he, his mom, and dad arrived on campus, he had this great demeanor about him,” Tharp said. “He’s the best listener I’ve ever been around. We were really blessed when he said he wanted to come here.”
In his four years playing for the Chargers’ basketball team, Gerber earned several accolades. The third-year starter was named GLIAC South Division Player of the Week for the second time last month. He also became the 31st player in the college’s history to record 1,000 points in his career.
Gerber said since he lacks in height, he had to make up for that in different ways, such as assists and stifling defense.
“He has great anticipation skills. He has great feet, and he’s very quick,” Tharp said. “Whatever he lacked in size he made up with how big his heart is.”
Tharp, the rest of the basketball coaching staff, and Gerber’s friends all have praise for Gerber’s character on and off the court.
Senior teammates Brad Guinane and John Bagge were in Gerber’s recruiting class and have played and lived with him all four years of school.
“He’s extremely smart on the court,” Guinane said. “He’s always making his teammates better.“
“He’s a fantastic leader,” Bagge added.
Bagge and Guinane were roommates freshman year living in Simpson Residence, and Gerber was their suitemate. They have been friends ever since.
“It was pretty quick [becoming friends],” Bagge said. “We all had the same backgrounds and upbringing. It was really easy to get along.”
Bagge and Guinane said that being on the team and living together all four years has created a lasting friendship with Gerber and the other men on the team.
“When we’re away for the summer, we pretty much talk to each other every day,” Guinane said. “We all get along very well. We’re truly the best of friends, and I think that shows on the court and what we do for this school.”
Guinane also said that he believes Gerber has impacted the basketball program for the next generation.
“I think Tyler would be a great example to follow for some of the young guys on our team for what he’s done on the court and off, his leadership capabilities, and his qualities as a friend,” he said.
Tharp agreed that Gerber has led a great example for the other men on the team and said Gerber will be greatly missed when he graduates.
“He’s been terrific. He’s been our leader — our heart and soul,” Tharp said. “We have a lot of depth, a lot of guys stepping up. Tyler facilitates that. He likes that. He makes everyone around him better.
“Everything about him we’ll miss.”