San Diego high school prep basketball star Jeremy Tyler has decided to skip his senior year in high school and play for Maccabi Haifa in the Iseaeli Premier League. Reportedly he has signed a contract for $140,000 for one year. At 6’11’ and 260 pounds, he averaged 28.7 per game last season, which in any league is a blistering total (high school plays 32 minute games, divided into four quarters).
“I was the best player in San Diego this year and it was boring. Next year, it would be extremely boring,” Tyler said then. “I’d go into the game with no enthusiasm.”
A few years ago, Mark Cuban wrote this article on his blog dealing with the idea of a minor league system for the NBA. I was reminded of this article after reading about Jeremy’s plight. It got me thinking for another angle about young men and basketball. I thought of guys like Tony Parker, Dirk Nowitzki, and more recently Ricky Rubio.
These three never went through what Americans know as the college ranks ranks. They all started around 15 or 16 playing for clubs in Europe, becoming pro players, getting paid to play. Now two of these players have developed into NBA all-stars several times over. Rubio is projected to become one himself, after being drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves this past draft.
Sure, the NBA is loving the influx of international players coming into the NBA. It great for business, great for fans, and great for the game. The NCAA, however, probably does not feel the same. Sure, between football and basketball, the NCAA is a cash cow that unmatched…for now. But what if Jeremy Tyler succeeds? What if he developes over the next couple of years in Isreal, gets drafted in two years by an NBA team, and succeeds? Do you not think that more of American young men who are top flight prep stars in America won’t choose the same avenue? Do you not think that European teams won’t open up their arms and bring them overseas for a few years of development while at the same time making decent money at the gates?
It’s a win-win situation for player and club team. Worse case scenario, even if the kid does not succeed, he still has made a pretty decent chunk of change, and if he still wants to get his college degree, he can come back and acheive that.
But this could affect the NCAA in the next ten to twenty years. Probably not bring the NCAA to it’s knees, but none the less, affect the quality of the player pool.