I read the news about the decision made by high school junior Jeremy Tyler last week and was really surprised. A 17-year-old US guy stops his high school career a year before graduation to play in Europe? After the Brandon Jennings door-opener this season, I thought that maybe some other HS seniors would go that way, but a junior? When I read the different statements then, I really have some doubts about this move.
It was particularly one article on FOX Sports that brought up the idea to ask myself if this young kid or his dad have ever seen a Euroleague basketball game. According to several sources, Tyler, who has already contacts with teams in Italy, Spain and Israel (!) — is Maccabi in the race here or what? They’re linked to nearly every player right now available in the market, so why not? — is telling them that getting fouled is not his thing. Just read:
Each game was the same thing. I was getting triple-teamed and getting hacked. After each game, I’d have scratches and bruises up and down my arms from getting triple-teamed. It just wasn’t for me.
How sweet is that? Scratches and bruises on your arms. Does JT really think that when he plays in Europe, it won’t be physical? He should be aware that while playing on the inside positions in Europe, he will have some opposition — and I mean real opposition, not like in high school. Has he ever heard of guys like Felipe Reyes, Ioannis Bourousis or Nikola Pekovic? These guys won’t open the door to allow you an easy dunk in their paint, but prefer breaking your arm to giving you an open basket.
Jennings may have been a little bit different, as he plays in the guard spots and can use his quickness to create for himself. But the inside game in Europe is quite different and is essentially played on the ground instead of above the rim; something that an Italian executive who saw Jennings play the whole season confirmed for me:
For a guard, it is better than for a big man, but with Brandon Jennings we are talking about a point guard not an off guard. And for a point guard, it is not easy to adjust to our style, which is much more structured than anything he has ever experienced before.
In general, this executive is not really in favor of such moves and is particularly pessimistic about the impact it may have on the professional team he plays for.
It’s too early for those guys to come over here. Even for a young guy already out of college it takes three to four months to adjust to life, not only basketball. Imagine for those young guys.
Can we say that the signing of Jennings was beneficial for Rome? In my opinion, Rome wasted a US player (Italian teams are limited to four such roster spots) on a guy who’s not really contributing.
And this limitation of US players may be the biggest hurdle for Tyler next season. Is there still a professional team that wants to “waste” one of their limited US player spots to a 17-year-old kid? Spain has two spots, Italy four and probably only three next season. So it will be interesting to see which team takes that big risk to sign a player who will probably make only a limited contribution at the highest professional level, the level at which Tyler aims to play when coming “overseas.”