The young man in the picture is Jeremy Tyler. He is a 6'11" center at San Diego High School who is ranked No. 9 in the class of 2010 according to Rivals.com and is committed to play at the University of Louisville starting with the 2010-2011 season.
At least he was until 24 hours ago.
The NBA changed a big stipulation in their draft so that high school kids couldn't jump directly from the prom to the hardwood for big bucks. The argument is that for every Kobe Bryant there's a Leon Smith, for every Kevin Garnett a Taj McDavid. Now you're seeing a lot of kids play one year of college ball and then pursue their dreams of mansions, entourages, and Escalades.
But what if a kid REALLY doesn't want to play college ball? Brandon Jennings would've played at Arizona this past season but decided another year of playing hoops for free (more or less) was for the birds, so he packed up stakes and headed to Europe. It looks like it will work out for him. According to nbadraft.net he could be as high as a top five pick in two months.
Jeremy Tyler has decided to do the same thing. He thinks he could be better prepared for the NBA by playing in Europe. There's just one big difference.
He is no longer a high school student and doesn't have a diploma.
Think about that for a second. This is a 17-year-old kid who will be living in a strange country to play for a team where he probably doesn't speak the language. The team's ownership will promise the young man a lot of money. It's not NBA dollars, but enough to make a kid's or a lot of adults' eyes bug out.
But Jennings said that he had a lot of problems getting his paycheck. He also said ordering meals or getting basic services could be an adventure.
Tyler probably doesn't have a lot of experience doing these things, as he hasn't had to. Hopefully the worst-case scenario won't manifest itself—a serious injury. Now you have a 17-year-old kid who has one career in serious jeopardy but doesn't have a high school diploma so he can pursue another one.
The NBA had good intentions in making kids wait a year to be drafted. Critics had complained about the quality of the game and the immaturity of the new blood. But while it may be too early to push the panic button, as Tyler is only the second known player to use the European back door to the NBA path, it is cause for concern.
And since when it is bad for an 18-year-old, who is legally an adult, to pursue his career without going to college and taking scholarship money from another deserving student if that 18-year-old is deemed ready to be a professional?