Millennium basketball coach Ty Amundsen demands more from freshman son

·4 min read
Head coach Ty Amundsen (right) talks with his son, T. J.  Amundsen during basketball practice, January 3, 2022, in the gym at Millennium High School, Goodyear, Arizona.
Head coach Ty Amundsen (right) talks with his son, T. J. Amundsen during basketball practice, January 3, 2022, in the gym at Millennium High School, Goodyear, Arizona.

Goodyear Millennium boys basketball coach Ty Amundsen has led teams to state championships. He's rebuilt programs. He's started youth movements at programs.

But this might be the most pressure he has ever felt leading a high school team.

That's because his son, 5-foot-7 freshman guard J.T. Amundsen, is starting.

He knew the scrutiny would be greater than those championship years at Goodyear Estrella Foothills, leading talented Phoenix St. Mary's teams, and building around DaRon Holmes and Justus Jackson to consecutive 5A championship appearances.

He sought advice from two brothers, who coached their sons in high school.

"It is difficult," said Ty, who won his 300th game as a head coach this week. "I'm harder on him than really anybody else, because we don't want to show favoritism. We don't want to say, 'Just because you're the coach's kid, you get this position.' No.

"I think everything he's gotten with us so far has been earned."

Father and son clashed a little in the summer when Ty told his son he'd have a chance to play junior varsity as a freshman. J.T., which stands for Justin Tryone, had bigger plans.

So after playing well in the summer and fall, Ty told his son he would be the 15th man on the varsity.

Still not good enough in J.T.'s mind. He won the gassers. He battled on defense. And he keep draining 3-point shots.

Now he's the floor leader, the point guard, who in the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas made 12 of 19 3-pointers.

"He earned the confidence and support of his teammates, and the whole coaching staff," Ty said. "They said, 'Hey, he's got to play more.'

"He's a really good shooter, but he's got a lot of work to do. He's got a lot of growing to do. He's not hit his full maturity yet. He's got to get taller, bigger, stronger."

Ty, who is 6-foot-3 and played basketball in Southern California after being cut from the team as a 15-year-old, remembered what it was like to finally make the team, only not to have his dad around. His father died shortly after Ty was cut from his high school team.

He cherishes every moment he has in basketball with his son. But it comes with tough love.

J.T. knew he would have to work extra hard.

"I've had nothing easy on me," he said. "It's been all hard."

Mar. 20, 2021; Gilbert, Arizona, USA; Millennium's Mia Amundsen (13) makes a three pointer against Flowing Wells during the 5A State Championship game at Mesquite High School.
Mar. 20, 2021; Gilbert, Arizona, USA; Millennium's Mia Amundsen (13) makes a three pointer against Flowing Wells during the 5A State Championship game at Mesquite High School.

J.T. and his sister, Mia, a guard on Millennium's state championship girls basketball team, grew up in gyms, following their dad to practices and shooting on the side.

He remembers the Hawkins brothers at Estrella Foothills and how Jackson and Holmes elevated Millennium to 5A championship runs.

This is the second time at Milennium that Amundsen has gone with a youth movement. J.T. is among five freshmen on varsity.

"This is what I expected coming to high school, being the coach's son," J.T. said. "Everything is going to be harder on me. I just had to learn to deal with it and move on."

Ty has coached his daughter's club teams. But this is the first time he's coached a child in high school.

He feels his relationship with J.T. has grown.

He said J.T. and Mia support each other. There is no rivalry between the siblings.

Amundsen feels better halfway through the season on his decision to play his son as a freshman. He said the input from his assistants helped his decision. They felt he belonged.

"He's earned everything he's got," Ty said. "The hardest part for me is the outside looking in. They're not at the practices. All they see is 5-7. A kid who can shoot. That he's playing because he's the coach's kid.

"But we know in practice, what we know in film sessions, what we know in the off-the-court stuff, all the things he's shown, that he deserves every minute that he gets," Amundsen said. "He's proven that at a high level."

To suggest human-interest story ideas and other news, reach Obert at richard.obert@arizonarepublic.com or 602-316-8827. Follow him on Twitter @azc_obert.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Millennium basketball coach Ty Amundsen demands more from freshman son

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