Anyone who followed Caleb Tanner’s high school career knows he can put the ball in the basket. Now, in his final college season, he has taken his game to another level. The former Floyd County High School star is a senior guard at Radford University.
“It’s been a satisfying start to the season,” Caleb said. The Highlanders made a big impact on college basketball with an early season upset of Notre Dame.
Radford went to Notre Dame without one of their starters, and got behind early by ten points. Caleb’s scoring started the comeback, and he finished with a team high 20 points, including six of nine on three-pointers.
Radford followed that with another major upset, winning at 17th ranked Texas. That was the program’s first victory over a ranked team.
During his career at Floyd County, Caleb rewrote the record book. He had a 59-point game, getting national recognition for making 35 of 35 free throws.
He finished his high school career with 2,770 points, the most in Virginia High School League history. Yet, he was not highly regarded by Division 1 college programs, so he spent a year at Elev8 Academy in Florida to raise his recruiting profile.
In his freshman year at Radford he became a go-to outside shooter, but missed the final ten games with an injury.
As a sophomore, he was the team’s third leading scorer. He had 24 points against UNC-Asheville and was named the conference Player of the Week.
As a junior, he was one of the top free throw shooters in the nation, making 31 of 32 for 96 percent. Last year was also the best season for the Radford team. The Highlanders won a program record 23 games. The team won the Big South tournament championship for the first time.
Beating Liberty on a shot at the buzzer was considered the first moment of March Madness last year. Radford went on to win an opening round game in the national tournament, before losing to Villanova in the second round.
“When I came to Radford, I knew I was definitely not good enough. I had to get better on the defensive end,” Caleb said. “I worked at it, and it has picked up a lot since then.”
While he is still regarded as a shooter, in the Notre Dame game he guarded 6-6 Rex Pfleuger and helped limit the Irish star to six points.
“It’s a challenge to go up against the good players,” Caleb commented, “but playing AAU and with my post-grad team, we competed with the best players.”
Like most players, Caleb said he had to make a big adjustment to master the college game. “At this level, there is so much attention to detail on every possession on offense and defense. Every second you have to know what’s going on. If four players are playing perfect and one person does something wrong, it messes up everything.”
When he finishes his college career, Caleb thinks he can play professionally overseas. Eventually, the Sports Administration major would like to be a coach.
But for now, the aim is to make the NCAA tournament again and experience one more shining moment, Caleb said. “Now that we’ve been there, we know what it takes to get back again.”