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Jeremy Tyler heading to Europe, will not be a Cardinal

Really, really, really bad news coming out late this evening as Jeremy Tyler, the crown jewel of Rick Pitino's recruiting class of 2010, has announced his intention to forego his senior year of high school and spend the next two seasons playing professional basketball in Europe.

Tyler, one of the most highly touted prep big men in recent memory, would become the first American basketball player to leave high school early to play overseas.

From The New York Times:

Jeremy Tyler, a 6-foot-11 high school junior whom some consider the best American big man since Greg Oden, says he will be taking a new path to the N.B.A. He has left San Diego High School and said this week that he would skip his senior year to play professionally in Europe.

Tyler, 17, would become the first United States-born player to leave high school early to play professionally overseas. He is expected to return in two years, when he is projected to be a top pick, if not the No. 1 pick, in the 2011 N.B.A. draft.

Tyler, who had orally committed to play for Rick Pitino at Louisville, has yet to sign with an agent or a professional team. His likely destination is Spain, though teams from other European leagues have shown interest. A spokesman for Louisville said the university could not comment about Tyler.

"Nowadays people look to college for more off-the-court stuff versus being in the gym and getting better," Tyler said. "If you’re really focused on getting better, you go play pro somewhere. Pro guys will get you way better than playing against college guys."

His decision is perhaps the most important one since Kevin Garnett jumped straight to the N.B.A. from high school in 1995. Garnett was the No. 5 pick in the N.B.A. draft and ushered in a generation of preps-to-pros stars like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwight Howard. A minimum-age rule passed for the 2006 draft cut off that route, essentially forcing players to spend at least one year in college.

More tomorrow.