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Jeremy Tyler Is No Big Deal

Posted by Michael Kelly on August 14, 2009

Jeremy Tyler will probably most be remembered for forgoing his senior year of high school basketball to play professionally overseas.

Not because this is a landmark, game-changing moment in the amateur-professional athlete debate. Rather because Tyler isn’t really a top level talent. He’s bored in America because he is being triple-teamed in games and still averaged 28 points a game during his junior season…so? I personally watched Jason Fraser play through a quadruple-teaming in high school, and he was a college bust, forget pros. And let’s be real- 28 ppg in high school is not amazing.

ESPN has highlighted the decision by Tyler, first mentioning it weeks ago when he announced his intention to do so, and recently when he finally inked a deal with an Israeli professional team. It is easy to see why ESPN cares- it’s a story that will generate traffic because of its uniqueness, and also because ESPN has had a very long, successful relationship working with the NCAA. If Tyler’s jump to Europe became normal, ESPN would be in a heap of trouble, not to mention the NCAA.

But, here’s the harsh truth- Tyler will have no impact on other American prep stars. Why? Because Tyler is hardly a prep star. According to Scout, he is a two star (out of five) player, who had some big schools, like UConn, looking at him- most likely because he was a guaranteed four year player, not because he could be a centerpiece on a national contender.

The stranglehold the NCAA has on the top high school basketball talent in this country is tenuous because the European option is there. And for some players the immediate money that can be made in Europe will be too much to pass up, especially when compared with having to deal with demanding college coaches and the need to at least fake interest in college courses for a year or so.

But, the smartest players will continue to play in the NCAA money machine because of the future incentives it allows them. Playing in March Madness or in a big conference gives these players national exposure which can help with endorsement deals once they do turn professional- playing in the obscurity of Europe does no such thing.

Remember when Josh Childress went to play in Greece about a year ago? Hailed at the time as an innovative, pioneering move, Childress’s decision was supposedly going to rewrite how the NBA had to deal with restricted free agents. But, have you heard of Childress since then? Not once. Have other players followed Childress to greener pastures overseas? Nobody who wasn’t forced to do so.

Some will say that Tyler’s decision could change the college basketball recruiting dynamic forever. They’re wrong, if only because he is not a high profile enough player to cause lasting change.

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