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New York Knicks’ Jeremy Tyler a Cautionary Tale

August 10th, 2013 at 8:00 AM
By Matt Agne

Recently, Knicks 101 reported that the New York Knicks had signed promising big man Jeremy Tyler to a two-year contract. Previously, Tyler's claim to fame was his decision to leave high school and forgo playing college basketball for the chance to play professionally overseas. As is clear by how raw his skills still are and how long it's taken him to get chances on this level, leaving high school early wasn't the wisest decision. Hopefully others use Tyler's story as more of a cautionary tale rather than a blueprint for success.

'PAAG' photo (c) 2009, Hall of Champions - license:

Jeremy Tyler is most famous for becoming the first American basketball player to skip his senior year of high school to play professionally overseas. That's right, not only did he skip college to play overseas but he left high school in eleventh grade to do it.

What's worse is his contract with Maccabi Haifa (Israel) was only worth $140,000. That being said, that's not a bad salary for a high school senior. Besides, it wasn't about the money. Not yet. Signing overseas was about learning under professional coaches and cultivating his skills so he could become a top pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

Instead, Tyler found himself struggling, disliked by teammates and a disappointment to his coach. He quickly went from a can’t-miss prospect into a project. Tylers tenure in Israel only lasted for the 2009-10 season. He then played for Tokyo Apache (Japan) for the 2010-11 season before entering the NBA Draft in 2011. Instead of becoming the top overall pick and shaking David Stern's hand he was taken with the 39th overall pick (second round) by the Charlotte Bobcats and heard his name called by NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver.

He never played a single game with the Bobcats. Instead, a few minutes later that the Bobcats traded his rights to the Golden State Warriors for cash considerations. While he played for the Warriors from 2011-13, he was sent to the Dakota Wizards of the NBA D-League in 2012 and played for the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA D-League from 2012-13.

In 2013 Tyler was traded to the Atlanta Hawks for a future second round pick. However, he only played one game for the Hawks. He was then sent pack to the Santa Cruz Warriors for the rest of 2013. After accepting a chance to show his skills on the New York Knicks Summer League team he was given an invite to training camp but the team later decided to sign him to a two-year contract.

That's quite a trek taken to eventually land a minimum contract with his third NBA team. It could easily be argued that instead of leaving high school early Tyler could have used that time to be a child, mature, commit to a college, further his skills, mature even further and develop properly before eventually heading into the NBA. 

Seth Davis of FanNation may have put Tyler's story into focus the best out of anyone.

Did [Sonny] Vaccaro ever consider that turning professional and playing overseas at such a young age was not in the best interests of Jeremy's psychological and emotional development? There's more to life than learning the drop step.

Some see Tyler as a power forward. Others see him as a center. What we know his he has a wonderful frame and at 6'10", 260 pounds he has the prototypical body for an NBA power forward. That's where the Knicks see him playing.

During summer league play Tyler showed sound defensive skills, good offensive skills both while facing the basket and with back to the basket and most of all hustle. If he keeps up that kind of play and remains focused and driven there's no reason why the 22-year-old shouldn't develop and be able to play at a high level in the NBA.

'SPORTS: Under former NBA coach Bob Hill, Jeremy Tyler matures in Japan' photo (c) 2011, Christopher Johnson - license:

That being said, the point is that probably could have been at this point when he entered the NBA in 2011 and perhaps he wouldn't have had such scarce play with the Warriors or been traded to the Hawks.

Arguably the Knicks would have never had a chance to secure his services at all had he developed properly at the high school and college levels before donning an NBA jersey. That draft the Knicks didn't have a pick until number 17 and were lucky enough to select Iman Shumpert.

That's something the franchise doesn't regret at all but with Tyler in mind there were eight players listed at power forward or center at that time. That includes four out of the top five selections. Those were very hot positions in the 2011 NBA Draft. Had Tyler properly developed he certainly could have found himself drafted in the top half of the first round.

'SPORTS: Under former NBA coach Bob Hill, Jeremy Tyler matures in Japan' photo (c) 2011, Christopher Johnson - license:

It seems more than obvious that Tyler made a horrible mistake leaving high school early. It's very likely that he had the wrong voices in his ear and the right ones too distant from him. One of Tyler's advisors is Sonny Vaccaro. He's known for his vendetta against the NCAA. He's the same man who helped Brandon Jennings secure a contract in Italy out of high school and forgo college. At the same time, Tyler's parents remained in Southern California while Tyler relocated to Israel. That's a bad combination.

In the end, Tyler may very well may see his dreams come true. That being said, his path to his goals was made harder than it could have been had he developed normally. Remember, Tyler's goals were always lofty. He didn't intend on taking such a long path to the NBA. He was suppose to dominate.

Back in 2009, Pete Thamel of The New York Times reported often late, lazy, boastful and brash Tyler would discuss his life plan.

Tyler still talks openly about retiring with $200 million in the bank after a 15-year N.B.A. career. He also talks about modeling, the documentary being made about him, and how he and his girlfriend, Erin Wright, the daughter of the rapper Eazy-E, will grow up to be an American power couple.

Right now, Tyler's tale has some hope. The New York Knicks see potential in him and are hoping he can be a big part of their future. That being said, his story should be nothing less than a cautionary tale for those thinking the leap to the NBA is an easy one or a forgone conclusion.

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Tags: Adam Silver, Basketball, Brandon Jennings, Charlotte Bobcats, David Stern, Golden State Warriors, Iman Shumpert, Jeremy Tyler, Maccabi Haifa, NBA, New York, New York Knicks, Sonny Vaccaro, Tokyo Apache

One Response to “New York Knicks’ Jeremy Tyler a Cautionary Tale”

  1.  percellovesgiants says:

    I really enjoyed this article, Tyler did real well in the summer league, im really excited for my team the Knicks

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