Johnnies Standout Weiss Following in Father's Footsteps

Tyler (left) and Travis Weiss (right) both had stellar careers at St. John's Photo: Courtesy of St. John's University athletics
Tyler (left) and Travis Weiss (right) both had stellar careers at St. John's

February 25, 2018 09:15 PM

Tyler Weiss doesn't have to look far for a reminder of his father's accomplishments on the college basketball court.

In fact, all the St. John's senior really has to do is look up.


Hanging from the wall at the east end of Sexton Arena - the Johnnies' home court - are five banners featuring the images of the five St. John's players who have been named the MIAC's most valuable player.

Among that group is Travis Weiss, who earned the award as a senior during the 1993-94 season, a campaign in which he shot 76.6 percent from the field - a feat that at the time was an NCAA all-divisions record.

"It happens almost every day," Tyler said. "I'll glance up there and see him. It's kind of weird because you don't always think of your parents as being young once and in college. But there he is every time I look up.

"It's kind of motivating in some ways. Growing up, your Dad is kind of a god-like figure to you, and you're always trying to match what he did. You hold him in such high regard, and you're always striving to match or beat what he was able to do."

The younger Weiss is certainly giving that his best shot.

The 6-foot-7 post - who helped lead Shakopee High School to a third-place finish at the Class 4A state tournament in 2013-14 - earned All-MIAC first-team honors as a junior a year ago.

And he's continued to impress this season. He's currently averaging a team-best 15.6 points and 7 rebounds per game for the Johnnies, who boast a 23-2 record, are ranked No. 3 in the most recent national poll and hold the top seed in this week's MIAC tournament.

MIAC men's basketball tournament

Results Wednesday

No. 3 Bethel 71, No. 6 Carleton 66

No. 4 Augsburg 67, No. 5 St. Thomas 55

Results Friday

No. 4 Augsburg 80, No. 1 St. John's 68

No. 3 Bethel 79, No. 2 St. Olaf 57

Result Sunday

No. 4 Augsburg 81, No. 3 Bethel 69

(Augsburg earns MIAC's automatic NCAA Div. III tournament bid)

"He's meant a ton to our success," St. John's coach Pat McKenzie said. "He's been such a consistent presence his entire career here. And not just in games, but in practice too.

"He's just consistently solid. We really preach consistency here, and he's a perfect example of that."

The 23 victories mark the most the Johnnies have compiled in a single season since 1985-86, and the MIAC regular-season title is the team's first since 2001.

St. John's also seems a virtual lock to make the Division III tournament for the first time since 2007 (winning this week's conference tournament would wrap up the league's automatic bid).

Which all likely puts Weiss at least in the discussion when it comes to the voting for this season's MIAC MVP.

The conference's postseason awards come out next Tuesday. And that's when Weiss will find out if his own banner might one day hang alongside his father's.

Not that either of them have thought a whole lot about that.

"If it happens, it would be kind of unique," Travis said. "But in my mind, he's already had a much better career than I did. He's already a much better player than I was. His career and his accomplishments stand on their own.

"So if he doesn't get it, it really doesn't change anything."

And if he does ...

"Then hopefully his banner covers mine up," Travis said with a chuckle. "He's much better looking than I am too."

Former Johnnies coach Jim Smith coached both players - Travis for the entirety of his career in Collegeville, and Tyler as a freshman during Smith's final season before retiring in 2015.

He said they share a number of similarities, even if Tyler has filled more of a true post role than his father did.

"Travis never really took a bad shot," said Smith, who ended his 51-season head coaching career with 786 victories. "He was such a great positioner.

"But I love the way Tyler plays too. I loved the way he played in high school. When he was at Shakopee, and they played Hopkins in the state tournament, I really thought he was the best player on the floor. And looking at him now, I think he could have played at the Division I level. He shoots well enough that he could play either the four or the five. He could play outside as well as he plays inside."

Tyler said his father's accomplishments actually played little role in his own decision to attend St. John's.

He had opportunities to play at the Division II level, but was won over by the Johnnies during the recruiting process.

"I came here on my own," Tyler said. "He really didn't try to sway me one way or the other.

"We are similar characters with similar interests. And it made sense that if he had a great experience here, I probably would too. So it maybe helped in that way. But it really came down to looking around and liking what I saw. I felt really comfortable here. It felt like a great fit."

Tyler has been followed by his twin sisters Hunter and Madison, who each earned All-MIAC honors as freshman members of the volleyball team at St. Benedict this past fall.

"Both Becky (a St. Benedict graduate) and I have tried to stay hands off when it comes to that," Travis said. "The last thing I'd want is for them to go to some school they didn't like because we were pestering them to go there. We wanted them to make their own decisions."

Tyler is on-pace to graduate this May with a degree in computer science, and he already knows he'll be moving to San Diego afterward to take a software engineering job.

First, though, there's the matter of winding down his college basketball career on a satisfying note.

"It's crazy how fast time flies," he said. "It's definitely motivating me right now. You know every time you step on the court could be the last time. And I want to do everything I can to make it last as long as possible."

And as far as that banner goes, if it happens to come ...

"That would be cool, but I'm not too worried about it one way or the other," he said. "My main goals are the team goals. Those are a lot more satisfying to me.

"There are a lot of great players in this conference. So I really haven't put a whole lot of thought into the individual stuff."


Frank Rajkowski

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