SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jeremy Tyler completed his jump from high school underclassman to pro basketball player on Wednesday when he signed a one-year, $140,000 contract with Maccabi Haifa of the Israeli Premier League.
Tyler, 18, is the first American-born player to leave high school early to play basketball professionally overseas. The 6-foot-11, 260-pound Tyler announced in the spring that he was skipping his senior season at San Diego High because prep basketball had become boring.
“I think it’s a very good deal for Jeremy because it’s a good team, he’ll play, they speak English and he’ll learn there,” said Sonny Vaccaro, the former shoe company executive who is advising Tyler and his family. “The reason we did one year was because it will give Jeremy time to understand how hard it is to be a professional, then he’ll do whatever he wants to do next year.”
Vaccaro said Tyler had five other offers, including one from a team for more money, “but Jeremy, his family and I decided it was more important to have a chance of playing than making a couple extra dollars. If Jeremy is who he’s supposed to be, he’ll earn a lot of money in his lifetime.”
Tyler averaged 28.7 points during his junior season.
In early May, Tyler told The Associated Press that he was tired of facing triple-teams, being hacked and being limited to playing the middle when he felt he had much more to his game.
“I was the best player in San Diego this year and it was boring. Next year, it would be extremely boring,” Tyler said then. “I’d go into the game with no enthusiasm.”
Tyler is expected to return to the United States when he becomes eligible for the 2011 NBA draft.