“His game will be picked apart [by scouts], but long-term it’s much better for his development as a player,” said one Western Conference general manager, who can’t comment publicly due to NBA rules. “It’s a bold move, but I’ve seen tape and that kid could play in the NBA right now. He’s an incredible talent.”
The bold move the G.M. speaks of is Tyler's decision to leave high school before his senior year so that he can play professional basketball in Europe. He's the first American-born player to make that decision, and plans to spend two years in Europe before entering the 2011 NBA Draft.
I won't pretend to have a deep knowledge of his game, but YouTube videos reveal that the 6'11" Tyler looks like a man against boys on the court. That's the problem, according to Tyler. He doesn't feel his game will improve playing another year with mediocre teammates against high school teams that triple-team and hack him. He doesn't think a year of college, Tyler had committed to Louisville, will help him either.
"Nowadays people look to college for more off-the-court stuff versus being in the gym and getting better," Tyler said. "If you’re really focused on getting better, you go play pro somewhere. Pro guys will get you way better than playing against college guys."
What Tyler is saying makes a lot of sense. Other than the fact that they don't get paid for it, basketball is essentially a full-time job for any Division-1 player. All Tyler's doing is getting paid for doing the same job, and he's doing it while playing against a high level of competition.
Colleges would have you believe that athletes are there for more than sports, but that's not the case when they are as good as Tyler. The college years are means to an end, and Tyler is simply choosing a different route to get where he wants to go. The old lions of the college game will crush the decision, but they don't have much ammunition.
They can't argue that Tyler's move doesn't make sense for Tyler, only that it doesn't make sense for their business model. That won't sway other kids from making the European leap if Tyler makes it big.