The Jeremy Tyler Debate On OTL

I came across this Outside The Lines debate between Sonny Vaccaro, Dr. Todd Boyd of USC and Marcos Bretton of the Sacramento Bee. They were talking about Jeremy Tyler’s decision to skip his senior year of HS to play pro ball overseas. I’m not obsessed with this topic, I swear; but once I saw it, I just had to put the video up.

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In a sport where 90% of the participants are black and after being around these kids for over 40 years, Sonny knows that money is their primary motivation for playing. He’s selling these kids a dream and he’s using the power of the dollar to persuade them into doing something that they wouldn’t have even considered otherwise. These kids and their families trust him and he’s just using them to further his personal vendetta against the NCAA. If he cared about these kids as much as he puts off, he would convince them to go to school and he would never talk a teenager — and his family — into dropping out of HS. Even though success and failure rests squarely on the the shoulders of the individual, if Brandon Jennings and Jeremy Tyler’s careers don’t pan out I wonder if he’ll take responsibility for ultimately setting them on a collision course with failure? 



8 Responses

  1. This whole argument kills me. It really does.

    First, we’ve talked about this before BC, but race is a huge component here.

    while I’m white, and I know you’re black BC, I respect that you disagree with Jeremy Tyler’s decision. I understand why & where it concerns you. Black education, and the disparity between Black folks education and other races in this counry is discouraging. I say that, because I have to live with black people who aren’t getting the education they should. It’s a problem on multiple fronts, but, that’s not Jeremy Tyler’s fault.

    I would bet that Jeremy Tyler could get his GED this summer before he ever plays a game in Spain, Italy or wherever he signs.

    The idea that Brandon Jennings went to Europe was the fact he couldn’t get into Arizona because he had low SAT scores. My problem is, Jennings wasn’t going to get an education anyway if he had a passing SAT score. He was using Arizona as a step to the NBA. Personally, I think it’s a waste of resource to “act” (I call this foolish pretense) like Jennings went to Europe only for the money. That is probably the biggest reason he chose Roma Lottomatica. (Rome is also a pretty cool place to live. It kills me the kid is homesick, but I understand. I was homesick the first time I left home for awhile. It eventually went away.)

    If the issue is education here, than that’s fine. If the issue is the route to the NBA, than that’s fine. But the two are not interwined. It’s not fair to expect Brandon Jennings or Jeremy Tyler to carry the torch for educational shortcomings in American society.

  2. One last thought.

    It’s not fair to Jenning or Tyler, but really, it’s not fair to the millions of people who are being shortchanged because so much anger and frustration is being spent over these kids going routes that almost few others can.

    I’m not jealous Jennings got paid. Im not jealous that HS kids have the talent to the NBA. I’m not angry the kids who did sign up for the draft and didn’t get selected. Blaming the NBA for that is wrong. Not laying the responsbility for those truly responsible for their own actions is not only foolish; it’s outright irresponsible.

    I agree with most of Sonny Vaccaro HAS TO SAY while simultaneously recognizing that there is an agenda there. I don’t think it’s about Vaccaro’s personal touch with these players. He’s not likely to influence these types of things for much longer unless he has a health transplant that lets him live another 30 years.

    I realize that many successful black players and visible one’s are not necessarily guys who did successfully go the NCAA route. I wish that, instead of focusing on the HS kids who did go out, that more people would focus on the accomplishments of Emeka Okafor who graduated from UConn in 3 years while also winning a national title. Hardly anyone even mentions that. They simply mention he was picked behind that kid Dwight Howard. It’s amazing in the first place that Okafor was picked 2nd in the draft to begin with! Dwight Howard being picked out of HS doesn’t make it any less amazing!

    Unfortunately exploitation and disservice everywhere exists. It’s not good, and while I’m against it, there’s no way to protect everyone, or even the majority from this. The world coerces us all. Most of us are forced to deal away with it.

    I applaud Jeremy Tyler for doing what’s best for him. I hope kids, while knowing many won’t get it, realize that, but I don’t hold out hope. I don’t blame Jeremy Tyler for that. I blame the lack of education that these kids are getting at all levels. It’s time we do away with the stereotypes.

    My last point is this. If the majority of “successful” black people weren’t seen as entertainers or athletes, I don’t think anyone would really care. Unfortunately, that’s one area where black society generally excels at comparatively to other area’s of society. I think it’s a stupid, conceited, and disingenuous to think of it that way, but a lot of people still do. Getting an education is very important. I fail to see how sending Brandon Jennings or Jeremy Tyler (or those HS kids) is the best, or a real way even, to do so.

  3. What’s up PG. As always, thanks for reading…

    I think the fact that people are focused on Brandon Jennings and Jeremy Tyler speaks to a much larger issue that doesn’t shortchange anyone. I think it shines a spotlight on the whole problem actually. If a kid in Tacoma, WA or the south side of Chicago drops out of HS to work @ McDonald’s or sell drugs, they’re villified. But with these two kids, they’re applauded for “doing what’s best for themselves and their family” and its OK because there’s 6 or 7 figures behind it. That’s crazy!!

    You want to know the real reason why “it appears” that most successful black people are entertainers and athletes? Because that’s the only way that black people are portrayed in this country and because of that portrayal, that’s the only way that black people feel that they can “make it”; by rapping, singing, dunking a basketball or scoring touchdowns. Far too many black people in this country identify with LeBron and ‘Lil Wayne instead of someone like say…the President of this country! I wrote about it on here, look it up.

    The reason why nobody is celebrating Emeka Okafor graduating from UCONN in 3yrs is because sadly, nobody cares. That isn’t as impressive as a HS kid being picked #1 in the draft, or skipping college to play pro ball in Italy or dropping out of HS to play pro ball in Europe. What Emeka did was a lot harder, but it wasn’t “sexy” so it wasn’t a big deal. The media didn’t even give it that much play which goes back to what I said earlier about the way blacks are portrayed in this country.

    The EASIEST thing a black kid can do to at least give himself a shot at being successful is to go to school. But that’s viewed as being difficult, or uncool or square. But what’s really hard is being a professional ballplayer, singer or rapper. But those are the routes we choose. Why? Because nobody is glorifying scholarly, educated blacks and using them as examples to the kids. Nobody is saying hey, this is Dr. Todd Boyd or Dr. Cornell West or Willie Geary and you can be just like them.

    So no matter how you slice it, this is a social issue that shines a light on everything that’s wrong within the black community. This is an issue about education and the path to the NBA and they are most certainly intertwined even though you think otherwise. And if you agree with Sonny Vaccaro it’s only because this situation doesn’t hit home for you and you can’t relate to the bigger issue. He may not be around to influence kids much longer, but while he is around to influence kids his agenda is a very dangerous one.

  4. Pookey, maybe I’ll feel differently if Sonny convinces a white kid to take his game to Europe after HS or drop out of HS in his junior year to play professionally overseas.

  5. Sorry BC, I gotta reply again. This is just too much to a great intellectual debate of our time.

    if that Tacoma or South Chi kid drops out, without the type of prospects that Jeremy Tyler does have, then in fact it’s a real problem. I do have a problem with it.

    I totally agree with you on Emeka Okafor. Truly positive monumental achievements are often noted, but not really celebrated.

    Barack Obama is a touch subject for me. I voted him, and liked him a great deal more before he became very very popular. That could be me being a touchy asshole too. It still doesn’t change that Obama has worked hard to change the perception of the US overseas 4 months in. It’s a start. He’s not perfect, but no president is No reason to expect him to be Hercules. Making strides is really what it’s about at this point.

    Which leads me to the black entertainer point. I hate that stereotype. I hate the fact that Robert Swift is rarely mentioned as a kid who jumped from HS. He wasn’t any different than Nbudi Ebi or Al Jefferson or Jonathan Bender or Monta Ellis (okay Ellis isn’t exactly like anybody) or Louis Williams (although I remember him saying he knew it was a risk he could live with). It’s just unfortunate that Swift had knee troubles. Ditto with Bender Bender did nothing wrong coming out. He just didn’t have a great NBA career, and his knee problems ended it before he could really get it off the ground the way he might have been able to. There are plenty of athletes who went to college in the same boat.

    I don’t think ill of Dr. Boyd or Dr West, or whatever high level intellectual university thinker of a similar stature. However, I thought that Dr. Boyd’s comment about Brandon Jennings SAT scores showed poor taste and sort of missed the tree for the forest. Like I said earlier, Brandon Jennings isn’t responsible for the short comings of other kids who may do something similar. Those kids are responsible for their own actions. They should be held accountable for them. Similar to Jennings and Tyler.

    As far as Sonny Vaccaro convinces a white kid to go over to Europe, I hope he does. In fact, I’m sure there are a few blue chippers who could benefit from doing that. But, I doubt any do. Even then, I’m reminded of the lack of class Jason Williams showed during his time in Sacramento. He was poor, essentially un-educated, and yet, he was well loved for what he did on the court. Jason Williams in every way that black kids get stereotyped for shows what’s wrong with the AAU/NCAA system today.

    This situation hits home for me. I almost DID drop out of High School because it was a complete waste of time for me to stick around. Intellectually I was learning nothing. I didn’t end up doing so because I let my own fear of doing so cloud my decision. (My father didn’t help that either truthfuly.) Looking back it was a mistake to not drop out and get my GED. I still regret it because all I did was waste my time doing something I hated and getting absolutely little to nothing out of what I did stay for. I learned some things, but they weren’t the type of lessons working full time while getting your GED coudln’t have taught me either. Sorry BC, but I very much believe this lesson.

    What I don’t like about this debate is it ignores the real problems and area’s that black children face on a daily basis, and towards their real education. By hyping up Jeremy Tyler and Brandon Jennings as failures because they weren’t willing (or couldn’t) to go the NCAA route, I fear that more kids will rebel unnecessarily for little to no reason. What I would like to see is simple. A lack of stereotyping on the Jennings/Tyler types who weren’t going to stick around for a 4 year degree.

    One of my favorite players in the NBA to this very day is Jason Thompson. He built his NBA draft stock up in part because he got better every year at Rider. He was virtually unknown except to the experts and the few fans who perused enough mock drafts to bother to learn who he was.
    Every time JT talks, I wish more athletes had an education that would allow them to enunciate. But you know what? Plenty of well spoken athletes exist who didn’t go to college. Jermaine O’Neal has always been a terrific interview, and he spent how many days in the NCAA again?

    My point, and this will remain my point, that Jeremy Tyler is not a rebel or a necessary societal impetus by going to Europe to play basketball. There is nothing wrong even in dropping out to HS to do so. I don’t care what color he is. The fact that he’s black is unfortunate. If he was white I would say the same thing. I don’t really care what color he is. What I’ve read is that he’s a legit 6’11 250 who can play inside and is likely to be a 1st overall pick in 2011 when he comes out if he continues his development. One report I read said that he could play in the NBA today. That was similar stuff I read to LeBron James in 2002. Stars are stars are stars. The NBA is neutral about that stuff, and hell BC, they should be.

    What I would love to see is more fans and the general public understand the routes that players take to the NBA is pretty atypical and there isn’t one standard form or path to getting there. Getting to the NBA is next to nearly impossible and only a select chosen few ever get the impossible dream of starring at that level. I would love that kids who are forgoing their education to pursue an impossible dream would wake up & smell the coffee. Rather than thinking basketball would get them somewhere, learning algebra, calculus, the fall of the Roman empire, how economics effects everyone, how to properly compose a sentence, etc. etc. etc. would be stressed.

    I could list a 150 players whove come out early, and not a single one went to college for their education. They went their because their dream was the NBA and they felt that gong to the NCAA was their best route to getting there. Also, for a long time the NCAA was the only route there. This debate only stems out of one thing: a fatcat see’s it talent pool being depleted, and is using everything in it’s arsenal to make sure that the hyperbole is out there talking about Jeremy Tyler as the anti-christ. My problem is that the NCAA is extremely hypocritical, and it’s taking a flawed, angry, ornery ex-shoe executive who in some way is taking advantage of these kids also, and giving him just more ammunition to keep on his mission.

    My ideal scenario BC? That kids who should go to college go, and the rare few like Jennings or Tyler be allowed to go to Europe to get paid to play basketball without being ostracized or demonized by doing so. Then maybe, hopefully, we can start working on the many ill’s that plague our society every single day.

  6. By you being someone who felt HS was an unncessary waste of time and wanted to drop out but didn’t, I think it’s really hard for you to look at this situation objectively. It doesn’t really matter if a kid has a “better” route other than going to school. That doesn’t make dropping out OK. You’re just not ready mentally to handle being thrown into being an adult world like that.

    I’m still not convinced that Jeremy Tyler is really as good as they say he is. Hopefully in a few years I’ll totally be blown away by his talent like I was with KG, Kobe & LeBron. You have no idea how much I’d love to be wrong about this…but chances are, I’m not. The thing you fail to realize is that Brandon Jennings and Jeremy Tyler were going to make it to the NBA anyway. School wasn’t going to hold them back from pursuing their dreams. But what is their dream? Their dream is to become rich and famous and have a lot of money. Basketball is secondary to them if you ask me.

    We’ll just agree to disagree on this one. But If they flop, I’d like to hear what you have to say then. I’m not going to say that they succeeded just because they made a couple million dollars playing ball. I have a strange feeling that very soon we’re going to be talking about these kids again because they allowed financial advisors and people that they trusted to look out for their best interests to take their money, talk them into bad investments and now they’re broke.

    This isn’t an issue of talent, it’s an issue of maturity. Time will tell on both of them, but one thing I can say for sure…neither of them is the next LeBron James and that’s why the odds are definitely stacked against them. These kids are good, but they aren’t THAT good and that’s what you need to be in order to be successful going down the path they chose. I’m not a pessimist, I’m a realist and I’ve been around this game at all levels my entire life. I have an eye for this and people who know me will tell you that I’ve only been wrong about 2 players my entire life. Tayshaun Prince and Rip Hamilton. I can spot a bust a mile away. I labeled and predicted Greg Oden to be a bust the first time I ever saw him play in HS. I’ve been around pros and soon to be pros and I know what kind of talent you have to have in order to have a successful NBA career. These kids don’t have that.

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