The Maccabi Haifa professional basketball team, the Israeli Premier League runner-up last season, announced today they have signed 6-foot-11, 260-pound San Diego High School star Jeremy Tyler for the 2009-10 season.
Tyler, 18, garnered national media attention when he announced in April that he would become the first American-born player to forgo his senior year of high school to play professional basketball overseas.
Tyler averaged 28.7 points during his junior year at San Diego High, leading his team to the CIF-San Diego Section Division I quarterfinals.
Tyler is expected to return to the United States when he becomes eligible for the 2011 N.B.A. Draft, where some see him as a top pick.
“I’m very excited to have signed with Maccabi Haifa.
I am looking forward to starting my professional basketball career in Israel and helping this team advance to the Final Four,” said Tyler.
"Tyler's size and natural talent will present matchup problems in our favor against other teams in Israel," said Coach Avi Ashkenazi.
"We know Tyler is hungry to prove himself on the court.
We look forward to him developing over the course of the season and improving our team."
Tyler joins a Maccabi Haifa team, which finished a remarkable 2008-09 season earning its first-ever appearance in both the Israeli Premier League Championship Game as well as the State Cup Finals in the team’s first year back in the Premier League after a 10-year absence.
The team has already re-signed superstar forward Davon Jefferson (USC) and has added top American guard Jason Rich (FSU) and the reigning MVP of the Puerto Rican League Jesse Pellot-Rosa (VCU).
Maccabi Haifa opens up its season on October 25, 2009.
”We are very proud to add Jeremy to Maccabi Haifa,” said Maccabi Haifa owner Jeffrey Rosen, the only American owner last season in the Premier League.
“We’re excited about the upcoming season and Jeremy fits in very well with our team.”
“Jeremy and his family wanted to go to a team and country where he would feel the most comfortable,” said Sonny Vaccaro, who has been advising Jeremy and his family.
“Jeremy fielded four or five offers from other European teams, but he chose Haifa because he felt it was the best situation for him.”
Tyler, a native of San Diego, will begin training camp in Haifa at the end of august.