Local Hoops: Tyler lands in Israel with lofty aspirations

18-year-old player signed a one-year, $140,000 contract with Haifa.

jeremy tyler 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
jeremy tyler 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Jeremy Tyler, one of the most exciting signings in Israeli basketball history, arrived in the country on Thursday and revealed that his friend and new Maccabi Haifa teammate Davon Jefferson played a key role in his decision to join the club. Tyler, 18, signed a one-year, $140,000 contract with Haifa, becoming the first American-born player to leave high school early to play basketball professionally overseas. The 2.11-meter, 118-kilo teenager, who is expected to be one of the top picks in the 2011 NBA Draft, chose to skip his senior season at San Diego High because prep basketball had become boring. "I left high school early because I felt that I can develop my game better by playing professional ball," said Tyler upon his arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport. "College was a great option, I was committed to Louisville, but to improve my game as much as possible I think I should play against pros. I think that to be a number one pick takes a lot of hard work and dedication." Tyler also spoke of the influence his friend Jefferson, one of the BSL's best players last season, had on his eventual decision to choose Haifa ahead of other offers. "Davon said it's a beautiful country and he had a lot of fun," Tyler said. "It wasn't too much to adjust to because it looked just like San Diego. He told me I'd have a lot of fun with him here. I'm a young guy so I need to be in a place where I'm comfortable. In Israel they speak English and it's a comfortable country." Tyler is looking forward to beginning training with the team. "I talked to some of the players and I know the coach is real cool and I'm looking forward to meeting him," he said. "I know that Maccabi Tel Aviv won the championships last year, beating Haifa. My goal is to win the championship in Israel."