Many of you probably recall the initial Jeremy Tyler story. With NBA Draft season in full effect and his invite sent for the ever-elite NBA Draft Combine, now is probably as good of time as any to revisit what brought him here.
Our old pal Jon L first mentioned his name over two years ago when he opined that Tyler should probably go to the D-League rather than his initial plan of leaving high school after his junior year to play professional basketball in Europe. Since then, Tyler turned down a solid gig in Slovenia before signing with Maccabi Haifa in Israel where he struggled and ultimately flamed out before deciding to play in Japan's second division this past season alongside Robert Swift and Byron Eaton.
Initially, that last paragraph would indicate that Tyler probably would have been better off developing the NBA Development League a la Latavious Williams rather than going the convoluted route that he chose. That isn't exactly correct, however, as Tyler actually probably ended up coming out of Japan smelling like a rose with averages of 9.9 points and 6.4 rebounds in just over 15 minutes of playing time per game (and producing a couple of highlight mixes along the way).
Had Tyler opted to play in the D-League, the 18-year-old could have been exposed with the media attention he presumably would have received by playing in the United States while teaching others a quite-public lesson about staying in school -- at least high school. He went rather unnoticed this past season in Japan, however, while being coached by an NBA-caliber head coach in Bob Hill (former head coach of both the San Antonio Spurs and Seattle SuperSonics) and earning minutes behind former NBA lottery pick Robert Swift.
It's difficult to say just how much the 19-year-old was really able to develop in Japan against seeming inferior competition and a tsunami-shortened schedule, but that isn't such a bad thing for Tyler.
See, considering he is almost assuredly the least-scouted prospect projected in this year's NBA mock drafts, most teams will be getting their first look at Tyler at the Draft combine. If he's able to measure out well and show enough in the limited drills that they run (which he's no doubt practicing as you read this), that solid impression will be the only impression that some NBA decision makers have of him. That could be disadvantageous if he's unable to impress, of course, but the odds are probably in his favor heading into the event.
Either way, Tyler was invited to the Draft combine and will get the opportunity to show his wares in front of everybody who's anybody in the NBA Draft decision-making process. The Combine is also the best indicator as to who NBA teams feel deserve a solid look prior to the Draft. Last season, 48 of the 53 players on the initial invite list were either drafted or ended up playing in the NBA, giving onlookers a pretty good feel for how much a combine invite is valued by NBA clubs.
Typically I wouldn't make all that big of a deal out of being included in something that 53 other players are included in, but the one NBA Draft-eligible prospect that ended up in the D-League this year instead of Europe -- Jamine Peterson -- wasn't included on that list. While this could be just because Peterson isn't considered as good of an NBA prospect as Tyler, that might not be the case for "Greedy" if all of his games weren't against what amounted to playing against better competition in a setting that was much easier for those interested to watch online or attend in person.
This story won't be complete until the night of June 23, the date of this year's NBA Draft, but it doesn't seem as if Tyler's long road was hindered by heading overseas while spurning the D-League -- at least in the early goings of this year's NBA Draft process. Of course, had he just opted to go the conventional route and went to Louisville as planned, none of this discussion would even be taking place.