Well, the expected has already taken hold: Just like Brandon Jennings this past off-season, an American has decided to forgo college to play professionally in Europe. Only this time, unlike Jennings who graduated high school only to decline a scholarship at Arizona, Jeremy Tyler is leaving high school early to head to the Continent.
The New York Times and Yahoo! Sports reported that Jeremy Tyler, a 6-foot-11 junior, has dropped out of his San Diego High School at the tender age of 17 looking to play next season in Europe.
If it happens, Tyler would become the first player born in the United States to leave high school early to play professional hoops overseas. It is believed Tyler hopes to return to the US in two years when he would be eligible for the NBA draft. He is currently expected to go No. 1 overall in 2011.
The Times reported that Tyler — projected as the best American big man since Greg Oden — would most likely land in Spain, where he could move to the professional team from its development squad. Neither report named a club, however.
Tyler, who had made a verbal commitment to play college ball for Rick Pitino at Louisville, said he made his move to get better.
“Nowadays people look to college for more off-the-court stuff versus being in the gym and getting better,” Tyler told the Times. “If you’re really focused on getting better, you go play pro somewhere. Pro guys will get you way better than playing against college guys.”
It shouldn’t be a surprise to see that Sonny Vaccaro is involved in this as the former shoe company executive was the one who hammered out Brandon Jennings’ deal with Lottomatica Roma, where the point guard earned 1.2 million dollars this season. The Times said Vaccaro said Tyler would make at least a six-figure salary.
While Tyler said the money is a factor, the biggest thing is improving his game for when he reaches the NBA.
“It may not be the best way to get to the NBA, but it’s the best way to get ready for the NBA,” Jeremy Tyler told Yahoo! Sports.
“I know I can do great things with my talent. My goal in life is to get better. Playing with the pro guys will get me a lot better faster. It will help me fulfill my dreams of playing in the NBA.”
The Yahoo! Sports report also had a revealing quote from one Western Conference GM: “His game will be picked apart [by scouts], but long-term it’s much better for his development as a player. It’s a bold move, but I’ve seen tape and that kid could play in the NBA right now. He’s an incredible talent.”
Vaccaro meanwhile was impressed with Tyler’s willingness to make the move, saying, “I always wanted someone to do this. It’s amazing to me this kid from San Diego has the guts to do this, to take on all these establishment people like this.”
Tyler’s father James, who, along with the player’s uncle will accompany him to Europe, meanwhile says he has no doubts his son will succeed: “If you know Jeremy, you know this kid is going to excel. Why would we waste his time holding him back? Kobe [Bryant] was only 17 [when he went pro] and he blossomed. And LeBron [James] blossomed. [Dwight] Howard blossomed. Why not give my son that chance?”