Jeremy Tyler is a great basketball talent. He wants -- and should have ever right -- to maximize his basketball abilities. The question is, What's the best use of Tyler's time for the next couple years? Some believe he's making the right decision given many factors, including the sham of "one and done," the decline of basketball development in the U.S., NCAA rules. Others believe not only is Tyler making a grave mistake himself, but he's setting a bad precedent for young man to follow him off the same cliff. For these people, it's a quick leap from Brandon Jennings to Jeremy Tyler to the ruination of basketball in the United States.
Here's a sampling of opinions on Tyler's decision...
If you love basketball, then you will love having the free market work its magic on basketball development. We have an NCAA model with limited practice time, questionable education, faked test results, all income pushed under the table, and a certain few individuals making all the big money from TV and sponsorship deals. That's going to be there. But now a few players are expanding horizons, and trying different models. Trying different models is good for basketball.
Exactly. On the court, basketball it is all about competition. Off the court, basketball is run (amok?) by powerful factions behaving like cartels. They stifle competition with big money, lobbying and good ole propaganda.
I have always felt that the "sweet spot" for one's basketball skill development happens between the ages of 16 and 21...The club system in Europe will allow him to grow at his own pace. I doubt seriously that he would help a top team in Spain or Italy next season because that is a level above any college league in America. Think of it as the Triple-A of hoops. It is serious basketball...However, every one of the high-level teams in Europe has, essentially, a "farm system" that would allow Tyler to face an excellent level of basketball, but at his own pace...Some feel that Tyler will be giving up the instant exposure of a freshman season in college basketball for relative obscurity for two years. If you ask me, that is irrelevant. Kansas is on television more than Regis and Kelly, and hundreds of sets of NBA eyes were on former KU star Mario Chalmers for three years. But even his Final Four heroics could not land him a spot in the first round.
Fran makes a lot of great points, but none better than...
I laugh at the suggestion by some that Jeremy Tyler is giving up his childhood for the big, bad world of professional sports. Almost any player who has been around the unseemly world of high-level, high school and summer basketball in the United States, like Tyler has, long ago gave up his basketball innocence.
Tyler should be applauded for not wanting to participate in his own academic farce. It is also worth noting that just because he won't go to college (at least after high school) doesn't mean he must stop his education. (For more on this subject, read an earlier Money Players post.)
Set aside the obvious racial overtones for a moment and consider only the sport-specific double standards. We celebrate individual athletes when they turn pro at a young age. Maria Sharapova was the darling of the tennis world at 17. Joey Logano is tearing up tracks and getting paid at 18. We celebrate entertainers when they turn pro at a young age. Nick Jonas, 16, is an actor, a musician and a paparazzi magnet. Miley Cyrus, 16, just might control the universe.
Exactly. I believe any backlash against Tyler is driven more by economic preservation than by racism, subtle or otherwise, but it is a fair point to raise. As Sonny Vaccaro told Staples in an interview, "Only in America do we chastise kids who want to make a living doing something they excel at."
When I was a lad, had someone offered me the chance to skip my high school senior year to play pro basketball in Europe for two years for about $1 million, I know what I would have said. "No, thank you, sir. That would hinder my educational and emotional development."
I would have paused for comedic timing before adding, "Just kidding! Where do I sign?" Here's what Jeremy Tyler will get:
-- A marvelous education in travel, culture, self-reliance and foreign language. -- Enough money that if Tyler can't hack the NBA, he can send himself to any college in the world, live better than the dean and impress chicks with his Maserati and cafeteria platinum card. -- An education in basketball far superior to what he would get in America. The Euros have secrets! Have you watched Dirk Nowitzki or Mehmet Okur play?
And now, let's go rogue...
ESPN's Doug Gottlieb thinks that money is main driver with Tyler:
Instead of learning to win and improving in high school, Tyler is going to chase the almighty dollar before he has even proven he can lead a winning team at the high school level (his team was 15-11 this past season). "Well, he is going to get paid" is not really a sound argument. If it is acceptable for Tyler to leave high school after his junior year to play professionally, when does it not become OK to leave? Tyler is setting a dangerous precedent by making this move. What about a sophomore or a freshman making a similar decision? Why even have high school at all?
I love Doug's passion for basketball, but it's an absurd leap to suggest Jeremy Tyler is our nation's basketball apocalypse. He's just a young kid who wants to play basketball and, like Jennings, believes that Europe is the best path.
Even the NCAA weighs in on Jeremy Tyler. Greg Johnson, associate director for The NCAA News and Champion Magazine, excoriates Sonny Vaccaro, who has advised both Jennings and Tyler, writing:
Vaccaro likes to champion himself as the only person who has the best interests of elite prospects in mind. He loves to rail about how unfair it is that a student-athlete receives "only" a free education. He has no idea how intercollegiate athletics works and doesn't want to know. He cares only about the elite-level men's basketball student-athlete. You never hear him speak about the other players on the team or the other non-revenue programs that exist because of the money generated by men's basketball and football.
I, too, spend more time talking and writing about the elite athlete. I do this because that's where many problems occur. In fact, the NCAA, Johnson's employer, reached the same conclusion: that more problems exist in basketball than in other sports. And that's why the NCAA convened task forces, created costly partnerships and added enforcement personnel to improve the "culture" of non-revenue sports. Why? I doubt it's because the NCAA "cares" more about basketball players than others.
It's unfortunate that an NCAA official uses his platform to shoot the messenger, rather than address the real issues that would motivate a young man and his family to go to Europe. Seriously question: the NCAA and its membership bear no blame for the problems associated with recruiting, the "one and done" system and also agents?
The NCAA should focus on what can be done to improve the system, not throwing stones at Tyler, Jennings (Johnson writes, "It is unclear if Jennings would've qualified academically to play college basketball.") and Vaccaro.
Most laughable is that Johnson wishes "Tyler all the best." Twice. Of course, if it turns out Tyler succeeds, Johnson's thesis is blown to bits and his article would be even more absurd than it already is.
Certainly, the NCAA wants to protect its golden egg, but in the final analysis, it's premature to determine anything about Tyler's decision other than it is intriguing.