Rick Pitino isn't saying a whole lot right now, at least publicly, but you have to think that this is the most difficult stretch of his professional life in quite some time, and probably not the easiest in his personal life either, regardless of what the facts are in his alleged extortion situation.
His personal life was marred by tragedy when his brother-in-law died on 9/11. Whatever happened in the bizarre extortion case on a personal level can't be any worse than that. But consider what's happened to him professionally in the last few weeks: first, despite being favored, his Louisville team was dismantled by Michigan State. Then John Calipari took his old job at Kentucky, which complicates his life considerably. For better or worse, his son left his staff for a gig with Billy Donovan. The professional implications of the extortion case are entirely unknown, although the rumors are in full bloom. And now this: star recruit Jeremy Tyler has tired of high school ball, has no interest in playing for Louisville anymore, and will instead take his act to Europe.
His family makes a reasonable argument for the move, with his father saying kids his age are heading to Iraq, so what's the big deal about a job playing ball? Tyler says he's not getting any better playing high school ball and he sees Europe as a chance to get better competition.
All fair. But as Brandon Jennings found out, assuming the responsibilities of manhood in a foreign culture isn't as easy as it might seem, starting with getting your paycheck on time, but on to dozens of smaller issues, like adjusting to different foods and beverages to language and communicating with your teammates. Don't underestimate that one. In the U.S., players generally understand the basketball culture the same way no matter where they're from. For Americans abroad, it's not the same thing at all. And while Tyler is no doubt gifted, he's likely behind the European big men in some ways, too.
In short, while it might work out just great, it's a lot for a high school kid to take on. Some of these guys may look like supermen, but at heart, they're kids, and this is asking a lot of any kid.