Kevin Garnett, in 1995, was the first of this era of players who made the jump straight from high school to the NBA, but he was not the first ever.
A guy called Reggie Harding from Detroit was the first way back in 1962. He was picked by the Pistons, but he didn’t join the team until the following year.
After Chocolate Thunder, it would be two decades before the next high schooler, KG, made the jump.
Beginning in 2006, under the new collective bargaining agreement, high schoolers could no longer go straight to the NBA. This meant top talent, needed to attend college for a year, or pull a Brandon Jennings and bolt for Europe after high school.
Because of this, we have another first.
On Wednesday, 6′11” Jeremy Tyler became the first American-born player to leave high school early to play professional basketball.
The kid from San Diego, CA and formerly of San Diego High School averaged 28.7 points per game as a junior.
Before bolting to Europe, he told Louisville Coach Rick Pitino he'd join him, but he then told the Associated Press “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.”
So, Tyler will now take his game to Israel for $150 thousand to play for Maccabi Haifa of the Israeli Premier League.
For now, David Stern is left to ponder if the age minimum was really a good idea, if it’s forcing teenagers to leave the continent in search of a paid hoops gig.
You have to believe this issue will be revisited when negotiations begin for the next labor agreement.
And we're left to ponder if Tyler really has big-time, "turn around the fortunes of a franchise" type game, or whether he winds up being some forgettable footnote in hoops history, a la Korleone Young.
Where on the tube can I watch Maccabi Haifa games?
Tyler is the first to bail high school early for pro hoops, but something green that our government prints tells me he won’t be the last.
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