A Tucson Amphitheater High School senior basketball player with ties to the Rim Country has accepted a full ride scholarship to play next year for the University of San Francisco.
Tim Derksen, who’s named after his uncle, Dr. Tim Derksen — a former resident of Hunter Creek east of Payson — announced his signing with USF on Oct. 22 during a celebration in Tucson with family, friends, coaches and teammates.
Although Tim grew up in Tucson, he frequented the Rim Country to visit friends and family. He also tagged along each summer when his father, Pat — then the Amphi head basketball coach — brought his Panther team to Payson to participate in Longhorn summer basketball tournaments.
Although Tim was elementary-age during those visits, he was obviously a gym rat, charging out on to the Wilson Dome floor during timeouts and between games to shoot free throws and throw up three-pointers.
During games, he sat beside his father or other coaches, carefully analyzing what was occurring on the court.
Although the high school players in those tournaments were years older than Tim, they treated him with a mutual respect, probably realizing he harbored the same passion for the game they did.
As the son of a basketball coach with 20-plus years’ experience, Tim’s second home has long been a gymnasium.
In 2009, Tim, his father and mother, Melanie, were in Payson for the weekend to cheer his younger sister, Maggie, as she played for the Amphi softball team that was entered in the Gracie Haught Classic Tournament.
Between games, Tim expressed a yearning to practice his basketball skills. After all, he probably hadn’t been on the court in almost a day.
Itching to play, he and his father headed to old Payson High School gym where Tim was allowed to practice a few hours before Maggie and the Panthers played again.
A few years ago, when the Longhorn basketball team advanced to the state semifinals, Tim and his father traveled from Tucson to Jobbing.com Arena in Glendale to watch Payson and other teams play.
Sitting next to Tim, he constantly quizzed me about the Payson players, especially Robert Walker, Oliver Lewinson and Matt Wilson, asking questions only a scout or coach would want to known.
His basketball maturity was obvious, even though he was only a junior high student.
Tim’s dedication to the sport has certainly paid huge dividends as he was recruited by several Division I universities before settling on USF where he’ll be coached by former Kansas and NBA player Rex Walters.
He says he chose USF because he believes the coaches care about him and want him to be successful in life.
To thank those who helped him attain his dream of playing collegiately, Tim’s heartfelt gesture was to host Saturday’s dinner celebration in Tucson along with his family.
Tucson Citizen reporter Andy Morales covered the event and later penned a story that read, “The fact that Derksen invited teachers from his youth only serves as an example of a young man who understands what it took to get him to this point.”
“It was really refreshing in this new atmosphere of the ‘me first’ high school athletes (and their parents) we have sadly become accustomed to.”
I had the opportunity to watch Tim play during Amphi’s run to the 2010 state semifinals and 2011 state championship and there’s little doubt he’s one of the most talented, yet unselfish players in the state.
At 6 feet, 3 inches and 185 pounds, he’s a natural point or shooting guard, but because he was the tallest player on the Panther team, he played out of position at forward and center.
Although he faced opponents much taller, Tim averaged an amazing 10.9 rebounds per game his junior year and 8.7 as a sophomore. Both marks were team highs.
Proving his versatility, he last season averaged 17.1 ppg, dished out 126 assists and was credited with 99 steals.
During his three years on the Amphi team, the Panthers compiled a sterling 84-12 win-loss record. It’s obvious Tim is a very talented young basketball player and an exceptional young man who is a role model at his high school.
What more is there?
Oh yes, Tim is an honor student with an A-plus average in advanced placement classes.