One-time UA recruit Tyler leaves pro teamby Brad Allis on Mar. 19, 2010, under Sports
Former Wildcat recruit Jeremy Tyler became the first basketball player to bypass his senior year in high school try his hand at playing overseas. With five weeks left in the season Tyler has left his Israeli pro team and returned home. I am not the least bit surprised.
When I first saw Tyler he was a freshman-to-be who really turned heads at the first Lute Olson elite camp. He was big, tall, athletic and skilled. You knew at that point he had a chance to be a special player.
The former high school teammate of Jamelle Horne quickly developed into a top-tier recruit, but he but had issues.
The second time I saw Tyler he was playing for the California Supreme and not impressing. Sure, he still had great size and ability, but he took possessions off, complained to teammates and officials and failed to dominate smaller players.
He was outshined by teammates like Gary Franklin, Tyler Lamb and even Andy Brown. While his talent was unbelievable, the red flags were raised.
He eventually committed to Louisville, but word was that a number of teams, including Arizona, had backed off.
Then Sonny Vaccaro got involved. Vaccaro, who steered one-time Arizona signee Brandon Jennings to Europe, helped the 6-11 Tyler skip his senior year in high school and sign with Israeli team Maccabi Haifa.
Needless to say, it was a disaster. Tyler averaged just 2.1 points a game and played less than eight minutes a contest. He walked out on the team at halftime of a game he did not play in and was in street clothes the past three games.
Playing overseas is tough for a grown man, but it is nearly impossible for an immature teenager. The coaching over there is strict and the systems are rigid. It did not take a rocket scientist to realize it was a bad fit for an immature kid.
All is not lost for Tyler. Jennings did not blow people away in his lone year of professional ball in Italy, but has a chance to win the NBA Rookie of the Year this season. Of course, for all his flaws, Jennings was a coachable kid who had his eyes on a larger goal. I wouldn’t say Jennings was mature, but after his time at Oak Hill and his relationship with a few NBA players, he had a grasp of life and the bigger picture.
I am not sure Tyler ever had that. While Vaccaro was aware of Tyler’s decision to leave Haifa, his own agent had “no idea he was coming home.” While Jennings struggled on the court, he seemed to cope with everything else about the experience.
Even worse, Tyler may try it again. He cannot enter the NBA Draft until 2011 and may try to sign a pro contract when his Israeli deal is up in August.
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