Pretty much. As an aside, it's not surprising in the least that the first player to challenge the hoops establishment hails from California (the late Ralph Wiley once wrote that California "has always represented a new start, a new world, a place where one didn't have to act as one had been taught to act.")
Tyler, 17, will become the first player born in the United States to leave high school early to play professional basketball overseas. He is expected to come back in two years, when he is eligible for the NBA draft.
Tyler had made a verbal commitment to play for Louisville. (He) has not signed with an agent or professional team. He will probably play in Spain, the Times reported, though teams from other European leagues have shown interest.
"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."
He'll need that pioneer spirit to endure an unprecedented, and once unfathomable, challenge. But Tyler supposedly has the goods to make the leap - though strangely enough, there seems to be some confusion as to whether he's 6-9, 240 or 6-11, 260.
The argument for forgoing the college experience has rarely been stronger, as Compton, Calif., point guard Brandon Jennings graduated from high school last year and went to play pro ball in Europe. He took some early lumps but is still projected as a lottery pick in June's NBA draft.
No, Tyler isn't taking the easy way to the NBA. But it might be the smartest:
Somewhat appropriately, I was listening to Charles Barkley talk on ESPN Radio yesterday about the struggles of Portland's Greg Oden, probably the most highly touted big guy of the past decade.
Tyler will play against the grown men who can challenge a player of his size and potential. Away from the court he’ll be home-schooled, earn a GED and return in two seasons when he’s eligible for the 2011 draft.
By then, Jeremy Tyler figures, he’ll be a much better player and person; having learned from top coaches, enjoyed unlimited practice time and broadened his horizons in a foreign land. He calls it “a dream job” and isn’t the slightest bit nostalgic for homecoming, prom or missing out on college hoops.
And while he’ll earn a great deal of money, he says his chief motivation is to make himself the best prospect possible for the even greater amount waiting in the NBA.
In basketball terms, it’s a no brainer. The only risk is exposure at the hands of superior competition. Tyler could just stay in the States and hide his weaknesses against smaller, less-talented opponents.
Barkley now thinks Oden will never live up to those early expectations, due mostly to a very limited offensive repertoire. "I've never seen Greg Oden score when it's not a dunk," Barkley said. He's "never going to be a great, great offensive player."
Some of that, I think, is because Oden never had to develop that part of his game. He spent much of high school playing against overmatched, undersized teenagers and the occasional all-star big man who was even more limited than him on the offensive end.
So Tyler owes it to himself to chart a different and potentially more lucrative course. If he were a tennis player, a musician or an actor, I doubt there would be much talk about it - Tyler would have skipped his senior year without much notice.
In this case, the revolution won't be televised during March Madness.