Matt Kyle ’08 Trains With Knicks; Signs With Professional Team In Japan

Matt Kyle ’08 Trains With Knicks; Signs With Professional Team In Japan

Will Play For Toyama Grouses In The BJ League

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Matt Kyle '08, who finished his Yale career sixth in school history in blocked shots, will continue his professional basketball odyssey this winter. Kyle, who played in Portugal and Tunesia the last two years, spent part of the summer training with the New York Knicks and recently signed a contract to play with the Toyama Grouses in Japan's BJ League.

Kyle's former AAU coach Dan D'Antoni is the brother of Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni and helped arrange the workouts with the NBA team.

"The experience was great, and I thought it went well," Kyle said. "NBA workouts really gear toward building skills players will use in a game situation. I took away some new foot work to use while moving without the ball."

Kyle said the Knicks will monitor his play in Japan, which could land him a spot on their 2011 Summer League team.

James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball at Yale, travelled down to New York to watch one of his workouts.

Kyle arrived in Japan in late August and is one of five Americans on the Grouses' roster. The league features a number of recognizable names, including Robert Swift, who played the last five seasons with the Seattle Supersonics/Oklahoma City Thunder. He plays for the Tokyo franchise that also includes Jeremy Tyler, who left high school after his junior year to play professionally in Israel. Tyler becomes eligible for the NBA Draft next June and some have him projected as a lottery selection.

"I am very excited for this opportunity to play in a very competitive league," Kyle said. "I am fitting in well with my team and the Japanese players are great to work with."

The Grouses' season starts in mid-October and interest in the team in the community is high. Nearly 4,000 tickets have already been sold for their first preseason game in September.

Kyle said the team runs a version of the Princeton Offense, which should benefit him.

"It allows me to have the ball in my hands in the low post and the high post to distribute," he said.

In his career at Yale, Kyle appeared in 91 games. As a senior, he averaged 7.5 points and 4.2 rebounds, both career highs, and was second in the Ivy League in blocked shots. After averaging 21.0 points in Yale's first two games, he was named the Ivy League Player of the Week. In his junior year, Kyle started a career-high 25 games at center and was third on the team in rebounding (3.8 rpg.).

Ironically, he took Japanese language courses at Yale and recently corresponded with his old professors – Mari Stever and Hiroyo Nishimura.

"They were surprised and congratulatory for my accomplishment," Kyle said.

Kyle is one of four former Bulldogs currently playing overseas. Edwin Draughan '05 plays for Fribourg in Switzerland, Ross Morin '09 is with SAM Massagno in Switzerland and Dominick Martin'06 is on Lleida's roster in Spain.

Photo of Matt Kyle at a press conference with the Toyama Grouses in Japan

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity