Nine-year-old Skylar Talley beamed at the camera inside the Devaney Sports Center.
She wore her new “Nebraska basketball” hat, hand-delivered by coach Fred Hoiberg. She brought her Husker hoops jersey from home, No. 24. Former Husker coach Doc Sadler had it made special for her.
Most importantly, she wore that smile. Skylar’s mom, Tori Tyson, hasn’t seen it much since the funeral.
Skylar’s dad, former Nebraska guard Dylan Talley, died of complications from surgery in March, shortly after Skylar started playing basketball. She said she wanted to stop, but mom knew she didn’t mean it. Skylar just needed something to reignite her passion.
The idea hit Tyson, who coaches softball at Howard, on her drive to a recruiting showcase in Colorado.
“We have to find a way to get her in that gym.”
Last week, Hoiberg gave Tyson and Skylar the tour of Talley’s favorite spots on campus.
People are also reading…
Tyson said Talley spent “the best summer of his life” shooting jumpers inside Hendricks Training Complex, which opened in 2011, his first season at Nebraska. Tyson, who played softball at Nebraska from 2008 to 2011, used to rebound for him there. She watched him play at Devaney.
Now their daughter can picture those memories. Hoiberg showed her the court, the locker room, the team photos — including an old media guide with Talley’s face on the cover.
Skylar couldn’t stop smiling.
“To see that joy back in her meant everything to me,” Tyson said. “She wants to move to Nebraska. That’s the impression that this moment had (on her).”
just like dad
Last October, Tyson sent Talley a video of Skylar dribbling.
Talley recognized the handle.
“She’s got that in-and-out cross like her dad,” he said.
Skylar didn’t see the resemblance at first — never had when it came to basketball. She was too young to remember the photos Tyson has of her dad dribbling with her. Too young to remember attending his pro games overseas. Talley used to call from the road and ask her, “You know why you love basketball, right?”
“Because I’m good at dribbling,” she’d respond.
“She would always miss that connection,” Tyson said. “We just laughed about it.”
The funniest part: Skylar is Talley, Tyson says. “In every sense of the word.”
Talley told Tyson he “could’ve been a black belt” growing up; Skylar loves karate.
Talley wouldn’t go anywhere without headphones; Skylar loves music.
And when Tyson coached pitchers at Cal State Fullerton, Talley and Skylar spent every day they could at the beach.
“Every. Day,” Tyson said, “which is the polar opposite of me.”
Their favorite shared hobby: acrobatics.
Tyson often heard stories of Talley flipping off of fences when he was younger. Talley loved taking Skylar to trampoline parks when Tyson went on recruiting trips. (Talley recorded their best tricks and sent them to Tyson.)
While most people fawned over Talley’s basketball talents, Skylar saw him as a gymnast.
“For years, Skylar was like, ‘My dad does backflips,’” Tyson said. “He was a (celebrity) for her because of that.”
Skylar didn’t even try basketball until two years ago, during the pandemic. But once she did, she picked it up fast.
Talley watched her progress through his phone screen from his hometown of Camden, New Jersey. He flew back to help his family in 2020, when four of his family members died over a 10-week span. He stayed there while he waited for surgery.
Tyson and Talley sent videos back and forth: Skylar practicing her ballhandling, Talley refining his shooting stroke. Tyson lets Talley FaceTime Skylar during his practice sessions.
Before long, Skylar started watching old YouTube videos of her dad. She liked an old BTN feature where Talley revealed his favorite player (Michael Jordan) and claimed to be the best singer on Nebraska’s roster. She thought he looked short playing for the Huskers against Michigan State.
After studying Talley’s game for a while, Skylar realized: “Maybe you’re right,” she told Tyson. “Maybe I do dribble like him.”
They were so excited to practice together, Tyson says. After the surgery, Talley was coming home. He and Skylar would shoot around, talk ball, compare crossovers.
After Talley died, Tyson made it her mission to memorialize him in their daughter’s mind. Tyson showed Skylar more videos and started telling the stories behind them, many of which take place on Nebraska’s campus.
Talley and Tyson met at Nebraska. Specifically, The Grove, Tyson’s Thursday night hangout.
Talley made his name at Nebraska. Most notably, he hit the winning three-pointer during a 2013 game at Devaney against Iowa. The day before, Tyson and Talley had been evicted from their apartment.
Tyson got pregnant in Nebraska. Talley was sure they were having a boy.
Skylar was born in Nebraska, 40 minutes after the Husker softball team advanced to its first super regional in 2013. Tyson’s sister Donna, who played on that team, arrived at the hospital just in time to meet her niece.
Skylar saw those scenes up close during last week’s visit.
She and Tyson drove past The Grove — Tyson said it’s closed now.
They ran into a Husker fan while walking through the Haymarket, and he recognized Skylar’s jersey — “We loved watching him play,” the fan said.
And Skylar practiced her jumper on the same court where her dad shined.
That’s when Tyson’s emotions overwhelmed her.
While watching Skylar shoot — and while recalling the memory — she couldn’t help but think, “Dylan should be giving this tour.”
“To see his daughter, you know, shooting on that same court, it’s so emotional,” she said. “He should be coming back and sharing all of his experiences.”
They can still share the stories, though. And the Husker Ties. And the game Talley played like he was “taking on the world,” Tyson said.
Since the Nebraska trip, Skylar has been urging her mom to arrange private training sessions. She wants to play AAU, shoot hundreds of shots per day, and she’s telling anyone who will listen that she wants to be a pro.
“She’s literally Dylan,” Tyson said. “Just so confident. You can’t tell Skylar she’s not going to the WNBA.”