Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday 04/23 A.M. Quickie:
Jeremy Tyler Will Save Prep Basketball

There is one huge name to know today: Jeremy Tyler.

The 6-11 prep hoops stud is skipping his senior season to play professionally in Europe. Not skipping college. Skipping HIGH SCHOOL.

It is revolutionary. It makes Kevin Garnett's prep-to-pro leap seem quaint and Brandon Jennings' vacation in Italy seem irrelevant.

It is nothing less than the most disruptive thing to ever happen to the major U.S. pro-sports development pipeline.

Obviously, Tyler is unique -- 6-11 studs aren't the norm. But you don't think that LeBron couldn't have made the jump to the pros after his sophomore or junior year of high school?

Greg Oden would have been the No. 1 pick of the NBA Draft after his junior year of high school, if he was eligible. OJ Mayo would have been a Lottery pick.

Tyler's logic is dead-on: Why should he spend a high-school year getting hacked to hell? Why should he cynically go play for one of these unsanctioned prep-hoops factories, like Findlay or Oak Hill? Why should he feed some greedy AAU system or college coffers?

How will playing his senior year of high school hoops -- or, for that matter, his one-and-done freshman year of college -- make him more prepared for the NBA than full-time pro development for the next two years?

The challenge isn't to convince him that he is wrong -- or to try to pressure future prep underclassmen not to follow him.

The challenge is to create a compelling enough system INSIDE THE U.S. that preps don't have to go to Europe to develop their skills for the NBA.

Rather than exclude college freshmen obviously ready for the NBA -- or high school seniors who will spend a year potentially watching their skills diminish, not develop -- why doesn't USA Basketball create a true development pipeline?

Take promising players as young as 14 -- America's Ricky Rubio -- and older and let them drop out of traditional high school and AAU systems, paying them to develop their games for professional play. It's basically vocational school, except the players are well-compensated.

The NBA gets better, more fully developed players. We starve the AAU and renegade prep "schools" and predatory college boosters into submission.

Let's look back and realize that Jeremy Tyler was a pioneer of the next generation of basketball -- a better generation than the skeevy one that has come before it.

That leads today's SN column, which also includes:

*Lions using Curry to force Stafford to deal?
*Dwyane Wade! Chauncey Billups!
*Make way for the Pirates! And the Royals!
*And a lot more!

Complete column here
. More later.

-- D.S.

You can call this an aberration -- or you can call it the

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