Saturday, March 20, 2010

Jeremy Tyler

Jeremy Tyler, seen here with his 2008-09 SDHS teammates, is a long way from San Diego. (Photo by Don Kohlbauer)

When we sat down to chat with Tyler, he was very likable, though, and had the charm that one day could pay big dividends alongside NBA successes on the court. He came off as a bright, personable high school kid.

But he was just that — a kid. And he still is. Except he has a $140,000 contract to play a game in a foreign country without the benefit of informed, trusted people looking out for his best interests.

While Pitino’s stock as a role model has surely plummeted, his track record of molding young talent into responsible, prepared basketball players and citizens is unquestioned. And Louisville, Ky. is a much smaller shock to the system for a Southern California kid than Israel.

But now, instead of watching Tyler prepare for his senior season with an eye on a Louisville team ranked in the top 25, we’re stuck with reports of Tyler’s failures as a basketball player and adult.

He’s playing with a team of Israelis who have spent a mandatory three-year stint in the military and for a coach who doesn’t have patience or sympathy for the lack of discipline and guidance that Tyler brings to the court.

We’re left with wild, hypocritical statements from Vaccaro who had the gall to say the following to the Times reporter:

“All he had to do was go and do what Brandon (Jennings) did, shut up and go learn. He obviously isn’t doing that. He thinks that he’s Kevin Garnett.”

It’s hyperbole to call the situation a tragedy. Tyler is one kid who is getting paid six figures to play a game. The mess he’s in is partly of his own making. But it’s the guidance of others — his coaches, his family and Vaccaro — that stands out.

People that he thought had his best interests in mind have led him into the mess he’s in now.

And while it’s still too early to call Tyler a complete bust, the odds are now firmly stacked against him. Just 10 short months ago, the SDHS star was a can’t-miss NBA prospect. Now he’s a long-shot project without a high school diploma stuck in a foreign land.

It’s amazing — and sad — how quickly things change.

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