Jeremy Tyler of San Diego has decided to skip his senior year of high school and play pro basketball in Europe for two years. While none of us may like the implications of what he is doing, for him, specifically, I do not have with a problem with what he is doing.
His move seems to be well thought out, and more importantly, he appears to be a unique talent.
That is the main reason I am OK with it—because for most kids, it would not be the right move.
What caused this mess is not the NBA, but numerous silly and delusional high school senior basketball “stars” four to 10 years ago. Forty-six of them went straight to the NBA, and perhaps six of them should have.
The last year that they were allowed, 11—yes, 11—of them thought they were good enough to go straight to the NBA. My guess is that about one player every three years is good enough to go straight to the NBA, which means (if true) a lot of young of kids were getting bad advice and being unrealistic.
Hence, David Stern and the NBA implemented a rule requiring that the potential draftees be 19 years old to protect these kids from themselves. Simply put, drafts are permissible under antitrust law because they are included in collective bargaining agreements between leagues and labor unions representing players.
While I do not agree legally that the NBA should be allowed to prevent an 18-year-old from entering the NBA, the rule is serving a good purpose.
As you are aware, baseball and hockey prospects can be drafted when they are 18, and kids are allowed to turn pro in golf and tennis BEFORE the age of 18.
Which brings us back to the 6’11”, 260-pound Tyler, who decided that high school players did not provide him with enough competition to allow him to develop at the pace that he would like.
Judging from the highlights that I saw of him and what I have read about his pro-like basketball skills, I believe him. But it is his unique size and talent that makes it OK for me—not because, generally, I think this is a good idea for kids to do.
His father and uncle are going to take turns living with him so that he will not be alone. In addition, away from the court he will be home schooled, earn a GED, and return in two seasons when he will be eligible for the draft.
Hence, education wise it is not that big a deal since he was only going to college presumably for one year anyways. While I consider education to be important, I do not think that you have to magically draw a line with a regular high school diploma.
Besides, he will probably earn close to a million dollars the next couple of years, so he will have some money to fall back on if he is not the can’t miss prospect that I am told that he is.
He will be better than the delusional kids who believed their own press clippings (and their family and friends) and went straight to the NBA and never even got drafted. He appears to have a plan and the talent, so I am OK with it, despite what it says about education, but I hope it is not a trend.
After all, look what to what happened to the other 10 kids that went pro with LeBron James four years ago.