Athlete of the Week: Da’Zhon Wyche gives his last to UAA basketball

Da'Zhon Wyche's senior season was cut short following an NCAA ruling.
Da'Zhon Wyche's senior season was cut short following an NCAA ruling.(Jordan Rodenberger)
Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 10:08 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Da’Zhon Wyche penciled his name into the Alaska basketball history books when he led the West Anchorage Eagles to the Class 4A State Championship in 2015. He inked it permanently when he signed with the University of Alaska Anchorage to play out the remainder of his collegiate career.

”Coming home, being able to play in front of my family and friends meant a lot to me, because a lot of them haven’t gotten to see me play since high school or online on like a stream,” Wyche said. “So a it’s a little different, they get to come up and be in the stands and watch.”

The former two-time Alaska Player of the Year spent two seasons at Laramie County Community College upon graduation from West High, then moved to University of Texas at Tyler, where he played three years at the Division II level — leading the program in scoring twice.

Having used a medical redshirt year and the year of eligibility granted by the NCAA to all student-athletes during the 2020-21 season due to COVID, Wyche had one more year eligibility remaining to spend his final year of collegiate basketball playing in front of his hometown.

Or so he thought.

The NCAA allows student-athletes up to 10 semesters to use their four years of eligibility. Wyche attended UT Tyler the fall semester of 2019, but did not play. However, it still counted towards Wyche’s eligibility, so he entered the 2023-23 season with UAA having used nine semesters and needed to appeal to the NCAA if wanted to play out the entire season with the Seawolves that crosses over two semesters.

”I ended up writing my letter, turned it in, and just kept going to work about the season — not even thinking about it honestly,” Wyche said while at the Alaska Airlines Center ahead of team practice.

The NCAA ultimately denied Wyche’s appeal and his homecoming season was cut short after 14 games, leaving the entire second half of the season still to be played.

“We got the news and it was just kind of like my world had ended,” Wyche said. “I mean, I loved it while it lasted — I wish we could have kept it going — but hopefully it starts something for someone else to want to do.”

Wyche’s impact on the court was felt immediately, leading the team in scoring (15.8 points per game), assists (4.5 assists per game) and steals (2.5 steals per game). However, his impact beyond the court will be felt for years to come as a standout local player choosing to play for their city over themselves.

“It kind of caught me by surprise. I knew a lot of people were going to be excited, but I didn’t think it was going to be that big in the community,” Wyche said of the support since choosing UAA.

”I feel like I brought joy to the city playing here, you know, it was just good to see everyone happy and excited to come support. So hopefully that stands and someone else does the same thing that I did.”

Wyche’s playing days will likely continue at the professional level overseas in the coming years, but for now, he made a commitment to the Seawolves and is seeing it through by joining the bench as a volunteer assistant coach for the remainder of the season.

”I’m very blessed to have this opportunity to still be with the guys and the coaching staff, and just to get a different perspective of basketball other than being a player on the court,” Wyche said.

“It was tough at first but I am getting past it. I am getting back in the gym,” Wyche said. “Playing college basketball was always a goal for me, but I always wanted to be a professional, play overseas — so there is more to my goal that I am chasing so I can’t let this unfortunate situation derail those dreams and goals.”

While Wyche’s presence on the court will be missed, the UAA men’s basketball season rolls on with visits to Western Oregon and Saint Martin’s this week with their new volunteer assistant coach Wyche on the sideline.