Tyler Foster picked the perfect time to have arguably the best game of his young career.
With Georgetown coach John Thompson III in the stands, Foster scored 27 points and grabbed six rebounds in leading Gilman to a 73-59 win over St. Frances on January 28. Thompson came to watch a Panthers player, but it was Foster – a sophomore – who stole the show.
"They were always on the radar," Robert Foster, Tyler's father, said of the Hoyas. "It just happened that … John Thompson was there. The rest is history."
A few months later Thompson offered Foster a scholarship, and on Wednesday the 6-foot-5, 175-pound shooting guard accepted. Foster also considered offers from VCU, Dayton and Southern Miss, while UNLV and St. John's expressed interest as well.
"He always loved Georgetown," said Robert Foster, a former Dunbar star. "He's been a big Georgetown fan, a big Allen Iverson fan, so naturally he gravitated toward Georgetown early on. It was too good to be true for him. That's really why he's getting it done so early."
Though he has two years of high school remaining, it was clear to most local basketball observers that Foster was a Division I prospect well before he suited up for the Greyhounds' varsity as a freshman. A student at Gilman since sixth grade, Foster's freshman season coincided with the Greyhounds' first year playing in the MIAA A Conference. When did Robert Foster know his son could be a high-major player?
"I'd say in the ninth grade," he said. "He played against varsity players in the MIAA, guys like [St. Frances forward] Dwayne Morgan (UNLV) and [Mount St. Joseph guard] Phil Booth (Villanova). He was a double-digit scorer as a freshman. I kind of knew we had something there."
Foster's role expanded as a sophomore, with him putting up 15 points, six rebounds and three assists per game. Robert Foster said a handful of local schools began expressing interest in his son, along with Georgetown. But it wasn't until the spring session of AAU that interest turned to offers.
Playing with Bmore's Finest's 16-and-under team on the Under Armour Association circuit, Foster emerged as one of the top scoring guards in the country. Georgetown coaches took note of a 31-point performance against Florida-based Team Breakdown in late May.
"They offered him shortly thereafter," said Bernie Vaughn, Foster's AAU coach. "He just picked his spots. He attacked, his jump shots started flowing, and once he started flowing, it was tough for anybody to guard him."
Foster was 14-for-18 from the field that day, including 2-for-4 from 3-point range. He had three other 20-plus-point games during the spring session and averaged 14 points over 11 games.
"His ceiling is tremendously high right now," Vaughn said. "He's only a sophomore, but the way he puts the ball in the hole right now, offensively the sky's the limit. He can do it in so many ways. He has two more years of high school, so it's up to him because offensively he's very gifted."
Though there might have been some temptation for Foster to commit immediately to the Hoyas, he decided to let the process play out a little while longer. He visited VCU earlier this month and seriously considered what the Rams had to offer. But the allure of Georgetown and playing in the Big East was simply too great to pass up.
"He was always kind of set in his heart on Georgetown," said Robert Foster, whose son plans to study business in college. "Once he took the visit there, he fell in love with the campus, Coach Thompson, the guys and how they do things. He's excited to get there."
Two more years at Gilman will come before Tyler Foster begins his college career. For Robert Foster, the reality that his son has already committed to his dream school is still setting in.
"It's still surreal, to be honest with you," he said. "It's totally surreal."