Jun 24, 2011, 5:10 PM EDT
If top high-school prospect Jeremy Tyler had played all of his cards right over the last two years, he could easily have been a top-5 pick in last night’s draft. Instead, he skipped his senior year of high school, had a disastrous stint with a pro team in Isreal, and was most recently playing for the Tokyo Apache.
The 20-year old Tyler is still a project and clearly very raw, but with his mix of size and athleticism, somebody was going to take a chance on him, and the Golden State Warriors did just that when they bought the 39th pick to get him.
Warriors executive vice president Larry Riley’s quotes indicated that he thinks Tyler will take some time to develop, but according to CSN Bay Area’s Matt Steinmetz, new Warriors head coach Mark Jackson is more optimistic about what Tyler will be able to do right away for the team:
New coach Mark Jackson, however, views Tyler a little bit differently [than Riley does].
“I don’t have time to draft somebody (and wait) for a couple of years,” Jackson said. “He’s a big kid who is an athlete, that can block shots, finish and rebound the basketball. He’s going to have every opportunity to do it now. Who’s to say we didn’t get better today?”
Jackson made it clear he will take a personal interest in Tyler, and then some.
“I see an opportunity to coach a young man and to spend time with him,” Jackson said. “And I just don’t look at my job as making him a better basketball player. I look at my job and part of my call is that I want him to be a better basketball player and a better person, too. I’m excited about what lies ahead for this young man. He couldn’t have fallen into a better situation.
“I want to not be just a coach to this young man, I want to be a mentor, I want to be a father figure, somebody he understands he can trust and can grow with. I want to give him every opportunity to succeed.”
In two years, Tyler went from one of the best prospects in the 2011 draft class to something of a cautionary tale. If Jackson really can help him turn it around and play up to his potential, he could be re-branded once again as one of the true draft steals of the last few years.