Not surprisingly, the 6-foot-11 San Diego native's decision isn't looking any smarter a year later.
After quitting his Israeli team with five weeks remaining in the season as a result of troubles adjusting to the team and life abroad, Tyler has decided the next leg of his international experiment will be with the Tokyo Apache of Japan's professional league. Granted he'll be coached by former San Antonio Spurs coach Bob Hill and he'll play alongside a handful of ex-U.S. college players, but the Japanese league is a tier below top European leagues and is not exactly known for producing NBA talent.
The most recognizable American player on the Apache is Mike Chappell, the former Duke and Michigan State guard who has spent the past decade bouncing between the Japanese and New Zealand league as a pro.
Entering the NBA draft when he becomes eligible next year remains the goal for Tyler despite a debut season in Israel fraught with problems. The teenager clashed with his coach over playing-time issues, walked out of one game at halftime and was the subject of an unflattering New York Times story that questioned whether he had the proper attitude or work ethic to succeed.
In the 10 games Tyler played for Maccabi Haifa, he averaged only 2.1 points and 1.9 rebounds in 7.6 minutes. He might be drafted on potential alone next June, but it would certainly help his stock if his production increased against lesser competition in Japan.
Although you can question whether the $50,000 to $100,000 salary a typical Japanese League player receives is worth Tyler not showcasing himself for a year at the college level, all is not lost for the one-time Louisville commit.
Brandon Jennings struggled for a year in Italy and then lit up the NBA as a rookie. Maybe Tyler can follow a similar path.
- Jeremy Tyler