Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tale Of Two Teens

Two stories about two gifted teenagers struck my fancy today.

One passed her three college entrance exams with perfect scores and will enroll at Princeton.

The other is expected to be the No. 1 pick in the National Basketball Association draft when he becomes eligible in two years.

While the 17-year-old girl from Michigan is lauded for her great mind, the 17-year-old from San Diego steals the limelight.

He is Jeremy Tyler, a 6-foot-11 forward, who announced last week he will skip his senior year and a scholarship to Louisville for two years of playing professional basketball in Europe.

He has the blessing of his father while both are being advised by a former shoe company executive who remains a powerful figure in basketball circles. The mentor is Sonny Vaccaro
who has advised some high school players to skip college to play for pay overseas and return when they are eligible for the NBA.

Tyler is a junior who turns 18 in June. Vaccaro said he was surprised by Tyler's decision to leave after his junior season but nevertheless supported it.

"Why do we have to put players in servitude?" Vaccaro said of the college game and its strict parameters on amateurism. Vaccaro noted that high-caliber European teens typically turn to the professional ranks early.

Not surprisingly, college coaches and administrators see potential pitfalls. A junior in high school "is a very young age to be thrust into a sport at a professional level where most of the other players are in their 20s or older," NCAA President Myles Brand said.

Vaccaro predicted one or two high school players will bolt for Europe each year. "It's something most families should explore as an option," he said.

Jeremy Tyler

Young Tyler is off on the wrong foot launching his professional career. He shunned the San Diego media by announcing his intentions to the New York Times, saying he was bored with high school.

Tyler's departure would end the turmoil that surrounded him this year at San Diego High. Three top prospects tried to transfer onto the team to join Tyler and soak up some of the attention that surrounded him but were ruled ineligible. Two coaches were fired amid allegations they recruited those players to try to keep Tyler happy.

Meanwhile, Willa Chen of Michigan's Canton High School, a Detroit suburb, has a knack for tough tests.

The Detroit News reported Saturday that the 17-year-old senior got perfect scores on the ACT — and the SAT — and the PSAT. The student said she doesn't think she studied a lot but she said she tries to keep learning all the time.

She participates in the Math Olympiad and also finds time to enjoy jazz, tap and ballet dancing.

As a member of the old school, I can't help but wonder if Jeremy Tyler will ever adapt to the real world. If he fails, he has nothing to fall back upon. As an education.

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