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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Tokyo Apache PF/C Jeremy Tyler

WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics [1] to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Jeremy Tyler

Position: Power Forward/Center

Team: Tokyo Apache

Height: 6-foot-11

Weight: 262 pounds

Stats: 9.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg

What he brings: It’s been a wild ride for a kid who’s only 19 years old. Tyler reneged on a commitment to play for Rick Pitino [2] at the University of Louisville [3] and signed with the Israeli league’s Maccabi Haifa for $140,000 — foregoing his senior year of high school. He then left Maccabi over a playing time dispute. From there, he signed in Japan to play for Bob Hill and the Tokyo Apache (if you’ll remember, Hill is the last man not named Gregg Popovich [4]) to coach the Spurs .

Tyler is a project, no doubt, but it’s not like an American has never made the leap from overseas to the NBA (see: Jennings, Brandon). As a junior at California’s San Diego High, he averaged 28.7 points, 12 rebounds and nine blocks per game, vaulting himself to a top-five national recruit ranking in the Class of 2010 alongside guys like Kyrie Irving, Jared Sullinger and Brandon Knight [5]. Whether or not Tyler still belongs in that conversation depends on who you ask.

Athletic, physical, defensive-minded guys with top-five upside who are 6-foot-11 aren’t easy to find, so somebody will take a chance on him. Tyler is said to have matured as a result of Hill’s tutelage and his experience in Japan. That and his 7-foot-5 wingspan may have played his way into the first found at the recent NBA Draft Combine.

Where the Celtics could get him: First or second round.

What they’re saying: “It’€™s a case-by-case basis. Some [overseas players] will be successful and others won’€™t. But Brandon Jennings [6] didn’€™t hurt his draft stock at all. … I have a hard time with that because I believe people should have a right to earn a living. But if you’€™re not doing it for financial reasons, you should definitely go to college.” — Celtics coach Doc Rivers [7].

Notes: The trials and tribulations of Tyler are many. A Google search of “Jeremy Tyler” and “NBA” returns 89,900 results. But these [8] three [9] articles [10] from The New York Times chronicle Tyler’s unique path better than most.

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