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State of Sports: At Phillips Exeter Academy, Tyler Bike is a leader once again

Feb. 16—Former Trinity star still leading — at Phillips Exeter

"HAVE you ever been to Front Row Pizza?" Tyler Bike is asked.

The question seemed to catch Bike a little off-guard, but he still offered a quick response.

"That's one of my favorite places," he said.

If you're an Exeter guy, you know about Front Row, and Bike is an Exeter guy. After spending three years at Trinity High School, Bike is now dribbling the basketball for Phillips Exeter Academy, a Class A program in the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC).

When he determined prep school was in his future, Bike reclassified. He's currently a junior and can spend next season at PEA as well.

"I knew I wanted to go to prep school later on in my high school career," Bike said. "Public school in New Hampshire was very good for me freshman year and working my way up, but I think it was good to take that next step. Prep school is more like college. They have a shot clock and I think it's a way higher level (of basketball).

"I was really looking for the whole package — academics, basketball, coaches, the current players. I was looking at Phillips Exeter, St. Paul's and Worcester (Academy) for a little bit, but it came down to St. Paul's and Exeter. They're both high-academic schools, so it was definitely a hard decision."

Bike, a 5-foot-10 point guard, led Trinity to the Division I championship during his sophomore year. He scored 23 points to help the Pioneers knock off Goffstown 64-62 in the Division I championship game that season. Goffstown had the ball with 9.1 seconds to play, but Bike intercepted a pass and was able to run out the clock.

Bike averaged 25.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.5 steals per game last season, when he was selected as New Hampshire's Gatorade Player of the Year. He also shot 41.4% from behind the 3-point arc last season, and tossed in 39 points when Trinity lost to eventual Division I champion Bedford in the quarterfinals.

In each of Bike's three seasons at Trinity, the Pioneers were coached by his father, Keith.

"He far exceeds what I expected," PEA coach Jay Tilton said. "To be totally honest, I didn't know that much of him. He wasn't really on the radar early on, then I started to learn more about him. My assistant, Phil Rowe, is pretty well connected in New Hampshire and knew quite a bit more about him than I did. He said, 'You gotta take a look at this kid.'

"What I really learned about him as a player since he's been here is he really is kind of a chameleon — he can play so many different roles in a given night. There's been a couple games where we needed him to be a primary scorer and he's pushed 28 across the board for us. There are other nights when he might get six.

"He's had two games this year when he had seven and eight assists to no turnovers, which is pretty unheard of at this level. He can do whatever you need him to do. He really is the quintessential point guard in terms of his ability to make people around him better. And his compete level is super high."

For those who don't know, Bike has bloodlines like a top thoroughbred. His father played basketball at the University of Hartford, and his mother, Stephanie Schubert, is a Manchester Central graduate who was a guard at the University of New Hampshire. Steve Schubert, Stephanie's father, also graduated from Manchester Central and spent six seasons with the Chicago Bears.

"He's been bred well for it," Tilton said.

Bike, a Merrimack resident, doesn't score as much as he did in high school, primarily because he doesn't have to. When PEA needs a basket, Bike is still a top option, however. Last week PEA trailed Deerfield by one point with six seconds to play. Bike took the inbounds pass under his own basket and drove the length of the floor for a game-winning layup that just beat the final buzzer.

He scored eight points in PEA's 45-38 rock-fight victory over Tilton School on Wednesday night. That win improved the team's record to 15-4.

Through those 19 games, Bike is shooting 49.6% from the field, including 34.5% from 3-point territory; 85.1% from the free throw line, and has a 3.4 assist-to-turnover ratio.

"I would say I'm a pass-first guard," Bike said. "I like to get my teammates involved and do whatever I have to to win. We have a lot of good talent here. A lot of kids who can score the basketball, so when I'm out there, I'm trying to get them the ball as much as I can. If I need to score, I'm willing to score. It's whatever the team needs me to do.

"I started the year a little rough in terms of scoring — just making shots. I'm not getting the amount of shots that I got at Trinity, but I still have to be able to connect on the shots that I'm taking. As the season has gone on I feel like I'm knocking down the ones that I'm supposed to knock down and I feel like I'm getting better at defending, getting better at getting everybody involved and getting better at controlling the game. That's been a big emphasis the coaching staff has told me. Be able to control the game. Be like a conductor out there."

Bike remains the leader he was at Trinity. Tilton, who is in his 22nd season coaching at PEA, said that became obvious on Day 1.

"We got together for the first time last summer for a recruiting event," Tilton explained. "We have a new team this year. I want to say eight of our 12 players were not in the school last year, and only two of the returning guys played any minutes last year. We have kids from Norway, and we have kids from Los Angeles and New Hampshire and Mass. They're from Chicago and all over the place. These guys didn't even know each other going into the event, but it was pretty clear who was running the show when we got together three days before for a meet-and-greet and put some foundational things in. It was Tyler, and it was leadership by example. They gravitated toward him within the first hour we were here. It's not what he says, it's what he does. He's not looking for his, he's looking for ours."

Bike, one of three team captains, has received scholarship offers from UNH and Merrimack College. Others are sure to follow.

"We can't take him off the floor," Tilton said. "He plays 32 minutes almost every night. He's relentless on both ends. He'll do whatever he can possibly do to put his team in a position to be successful.

"It's such a big jump playing at the prep school level because of the size and speed — it's a different animal — and that transition can be really tough for kids, I don't care where they're coming from. It's such a different experience that they often take a step back before they take a step forward.

"Tyler's been out of the chute right from the beginning. He's a terrific player."