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.”