Regarded by many as the top high school player in the nation just two years ago, Jeremy Tyler's precipitous fall from basketball stardom ended in a second-round acquisition by the Golden State Warriors in the 2011 NBA draft.
By now, Tyler's story is well known to casual fans and basketball junkies alike. It is a cautionary tale to all those high school basketball prodigies who would consider circumventing the NBA's one-and-done rule by going overseas for a year instead.
With Brandon Jennings' bold move of skipping college after high school and playing professionally in Italy before entering the NBA draft, a precedent was set for others to follow his path.
Tyler decided to take that one step further and made that not recommended jump before he even graduated high school.
Although he was a top high school prospect, he was much too raw to succeed at the professional level. He was playing with grown men despite being only 18 years old, his coaches and teammates disliked him and criticized his work ethic and he simply could not find a niche.
To many critics, that daring move spoke of immaturity and "buying into his own hype" on the part of Tyler.
However, an excellent article on Tyler written by columnist Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News suggests that the newfound maturity that many owners and scouts noticed with Tyler during the pre-draft interview process seems to be legitimate.
One look at the Warriors' frontcourt, and anyone could see that the opportunity is there for Tyler to get minutes, possibly very soon. It would be an ideal situation for a raw, athletic youngster like Tyler to learn behind a veteran star such as Kevin Garnett, but the team is simply lacking in that veteran leadership department.
Therefore, Tyler will likely be thrust into important minutes quickly. After all, his competition in the frontcourt will consist mainly of Ekpe Udoh and Andris Biedrins unless the Warriors manage to acquire another big through trade or free agency.
Udoh was a huge reach at the sixth overall selection in the 2010 draft, and while Warriors management refuses to admit it, I believe he is a career role player who wouldn't get off the bench for any of the elite teams.
Biedrins, on the other hand, has simply taken the wrong career trajectory. It is usually a bad sign when a young player shows great promise and then dials it in for the next two years after receiving his first big contract. As far as resurrecting his career, I'm not sold that anything other than getting traded would do that for him.
One thing that Tyler already has that neither of the aforementioned players possesses is the frame to bang with NBA-caliber post players. At 6'11" and 260 pounds, he already has the bulk to at least match up physically with the Andrew Bynums and Dwight Howards of the league.
Three years after his big mistake, Jeremy Tyler is still a big question mark.
Can he recover and have the successful NBA career he thinks he was meant to have? Or will he flame out quickly, doomed by his early failures in professional basketball and a lack of development?
However his career turns out, the decision to acquire Tyler's rights in the second round was a somewhat risky but savvy move by the Warriors' front office. It is exactly the type of risk that teams are willing to take in order to be great.
Tyler is an athletic big man with very good potential and legitimate NBA size. He is still only 20 years old and once was a considered a potential lottery pick had he stayed in school. With the right guidance and coaching, what's to stop him from being a serviceable, if not great, NBA center?
The acquisition also speaks volumes about the culture change that is going on in Golden State, with new owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber taking over and hiring new faces, such as assistant GM Bob Myers and advisor Jerry West.
The franchise seems to be headed in the right direction under the new leadership, and Warriors fans have a lot to be excited about for the near future.
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