Friday, May 1, 2009 Guest Post - Skipping High School To Go Pro?!?

[Editor's Note: Earning my paycheck today. Citizen Ojo's on deck.]

I’m all for getting a college education. I come from a family where everyone has a college degree. I’m even for going post grad if need be. But I always had the sneaky suspicion that everyone wasn’t in school to get a degree. Some college athletes are in school to keep the classroom seat warm. They know they want to play in the pros but rules keep them from doing so. It seems these days college is the rest stop for kids on their way to the pro level. Finally someone decided to be honest and say what many folks have been thinking. Jeremy Tyler is dropping out of high school and going overseas to play basketball. I know you are probably saying “dropping out of high school”!!! What about getting his high school degree?
Jeremy Tyler, 17, announced last week that he would skip his senior year at San Diego High School, rescind his commitment to attend Louisville and play professionally in Europe.

Although arguments will continue for the next two years — until Tyler becomes eligible to play in the N.B.A. — on whether he made the right decision in opting to play in Europe, there is no debating his talent. He averaged 28.7 points a game last season, and at 6 feet 11 inches and 258 pounds, he already has a professional body.

“He has more upside than any player I’ve seen since LeBron,” said Olden Polynice, a 15-year N.B.A. veteran who helped out Tyler’s high school team as a volunteer this season.

Polynice said that Tyler’s footwork reminded him of a young Hakeem Olajuwon, but that Tyler was more athletic. He said Tyler played with “an intensity that borders on angry.”

“He’s one of those guys who comes along once in a lifetime,” Polynice said. “He’s a G.M.’s dream and a marketer’s dream. He could model or do movies. On the court, he does things you can’t teach and has a fire that burns within him that you can’t teach.”

From fourth grade on, Tyler lived in San Diego with his father, James, and an uncle, Maurice. Raised by two single men, he jokes about a childhood filled with “manual labor.”

Although Tyler acknowledges having “ups and downs” in the classroom, he is deft at conversation, always makes eye contact and is polite to the point that his stepmother, Joan Jackson-Tyler, calls him a “romantic.”

“I have a vision, and my vision is to make the pros and have a successful life,” he said. “Partying and all that stuff isn’t in my arsenal.”

The opinions on Tyler’s move appear to vary by perspective. Of six N.B.A. personnel members interviewed, none thought it was a bad idea. They applauded the better competition, the focus on skills and the better forum for evaluation that Europe offers over the American college system.
A high school degree? Ha ha ha.....this guy doesn’t want a degree. He wants to get paid!!! Maybe he wasn’t the best student anyway. He probably does enough so he can be eligible to play. As Citizen Daddy use to say about kids that weren’t academically inclined……….”their books got too heavy for them”. I think he might have said that about me to Citizen Momma when I wasn't around (If you are laughing at that you shouldn’t be!!!). The difference between me and dude is a 15 foot jump shot. I couldn’t make any money playing sports and I’m too scared to sell drugs (I know I know……………my options as an African American Male are so limited). A guy like me needed to go to college. Tyler realized that he would only be kidding himself if he went to college. He knew he didn’t want to keep up the façade of a “student athlete”. Why go to classes, accept money from boosters, have sex with groupies and play in March Madness if you don’t have to?

[Editor's Note: Brandon Jennings, who famously skipped college to play in Spain last year, is predicted to be a Top 5 NBA draft pick this Summer. Tyler is the #1 ranked Junior in High School, and is expected to be the #1 overall pick in 2 years.]

After playing overseas he will bypass the eligibility rules for entering the NBA. After about a year or two, he can get picked up by an NBA team. He can always go back and get his GED if he wants to. My only advice to him is to make sure he never ever ever ever gets hurt. In this changing economy a high school degree holds the equivalency of a perfect attendance certificate. Sure it’s nice to put on your wall but other than that it doesn’t do much for you. Without any skills (electrician, plumbing, brick making) he doesn’t have anything to fall back on. And without a college degree his job pool gets very small. So I wish him happiness, health and wealth. This could possibly be good news for someone else. With him not attending college, it leaves a spot open with the groupies. The guy that sits at the end of the bench.

Question: Do you think Jeremy Tyler skipping his Senior year of high school to play in Europe is a good idea?

Jeremy Tyler, N.B.A. Prospect, Is Groomed to Play His Own Way [NYTimes]

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