Draft starts a new challenge for Tyler


Staff Writer

The journey has only begun.

Hours after former Tokyo Apache forward/center Jeremy Tyler was drafted 39th overall by the Charlotte Bobcats and traded to the Golden State Warriors, longtime coach Bob Hill dished out a few words of wisdom on Friday evening from Taiwan.

“Under the circumstances, Jeremy has been drafted and he has the opportunity now to play in the NBA,” Hill, who coached the Apache in 2010-11, told The Japan Times. “He will have to continue to work and improve but I believe he has the talent and motor to do so. His path up to this point has been anything but traditional, but nothing has been easy up to now and he knows what that is like. He simply has to continue to work and get better.”

Without hesitation, Hill, who has been the head coach of four NBA teams, will repeat this message for all players who are in a position to play in the NBA.

Tyler, 20, now must constantly prove he belongs in the NBA. As a second-round selection, though, he’ll face less scrutiny than a lottery pick.

Veteran guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, the No. 3 pick in the 1990 NBA Draft, knows all about the ups and downs of the pro game. Now 42, Abdul-Rauf still makes a living playing basketball. He spent the past two seasons playing for the bj-league’s Kyoto Hannaryz.

Abdul-Rauf, who played his final NBA game in 2001, knows potential is a label that defines Tyler right now.

“The NBA has certainly made it clear that they are pursuing younger athletes,” Abdul-Rauf said. “Jeremy Tyler is young and athletic with a lot of potential. Of course potential is only good if you can build upon it. I’m aware of some of the question marks concerning his maturity level and desire to want to get better.

“I would love to see him do well and prove the critics wrong, especially since I grew up with his father (James Tyler) in Gulfport, Mississippi. He has an uphill battle, but one I think he can surmount if he chooses to dedicate himself to becoming more responsible and working hard.”

Throughout the season, Tyler and Abdul-Rauf spoke frequently on the phone, which helped prepare the San Diego native for what lies ahead.

In January, Tyler sat down with The Japan Times for an extended interview and revealed as much.

“Having Mahmoud here has been great,” Tyler said after participating in the Slam Dunk Contest, which was held before the 2010-11 All-Star Game in Osaka. “I talk to him almost everyday. He’s a guy who knows what the NBA life is all about and he’s given me a lot of good advice.”

In a post-draft interview with Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News, new Golden State coach Mark Jackson expressed excitement about the chance to work with Tyler. Asked if there’s a comparison between the 20-year-old and others, Kawakami rejected the notion.

“No. I knew people that knew him,” Jackson told the newspaper. “We have the same former agent. I know guys that coached him when he was in the eighth grade. I know guys that knew him his whole life.

“Everybody said this kid is a great kid that needs direction and has tremendous upside. I feel very comfortable about taking him and molding him to be what we want him to be.”

Abdul-Rauf, meanwhile, is weighing his options for next season after averaging 15.1 points per game last season. He said he’s still interested in playing for the Hannaryz next season, but may have offers in France and Iran as well.

HeatDevils update: A news conference is scheduled for Monday morning in Beppu, Oita Prefecture, to address the Oita HeatDevils’ financial situation, team spokesman Tomohiro Hashimoto said in a telephone conversation on Saturday.

The HeatDevils had set a Friday deadline to raise ¥45 million, coming from fan donations, to help cover the cost of fielding a team next season. The team has a planned budget of ¥125 million for 2011-12, but faces the possibility of folding or suspending operations.

Coaching news: The expansion Yokohama B-Corsairs are expected to introduce their first coach at a July 3 news conference in Yokohama. . . . Former Niigata Albirex BB and Takamatsu Five Arrows forward Matt Garrison will be named Niigata’s next bench boss, someone familiar with the situation said on Saturday.