Jaylon Tyson Says He Took Less NIL Money to Come to Cal, But It’s Paying Off

Former Cal star Tyson told CBS Sports that Kansas and Auburn offered him a lot more, but Mark Madsen helped make him a possible first-round NBA pick
Jaylon Tyson. Photo by Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports
Jaylon Tyson. Photo by Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Former Cal standout Jaylon Tyson took the long-term view when he was choosing a transfer destination a year ago, and it is paying off now.  

He decided playing for Mark Madsen was worth sacrificing dollars now to enhance his future career.  And his decision may be why he is a potential first-round draft pick. It also demonstrates Madsen’s recruiting skills, that he can attract a prime transfer with less NIL money to dangle.

Many transfers jump at the biggest NIL financial offer they receive.  A 20-year-old athlete may see the dollars he can earn right now, and might grab it.

However, Tyson told CBS Sports this week while participating in the NBA Combine that several schools, including Kansas and Auburn, offered Tyson a lot more NIL money than Cal did. But Tyson thought playing for Madsen would be best for his pro future.

The CBS Sports article asked a number of Combine participants about their NIL experience, and author Isaac Trotter said this about Tyson’s offers when he entered the transfer portal out of Texas Tech following the 2022-23 season.

Jaylon Tyson noted he might only be an NBA prospect because he didn't take the highest-dollar offer on the table last year. It wasn't a $2 million deal, but Auburn and Kansas had impressive financial packages for the then-Texas Tech transfer.

Tyson chose Mark Madsen and Cal.


Tyson noted that having trusted advisors who had his future in mind played a role in his decision.

"Cal was probably the least amount of money, but the opportunity, to play for Mark Madsen and that coaching staff, I thought I made the best decision," Tyson told CBS Sports. "Obviously, I did because I'm here today. When I was going through the portal process, I'm glad I had a good circle to tell me that it's not about the money. The money is not the long-term thing. I'm just glad I made the right decision."

So what would have happened if Tyson had taken more money up front to join the Kansas or Auburn program?

Tyson had been a starter at Texas Tech, but he was fourth on the team in scoring in 2022-23 at 10.7 points while averaging 6.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists.

At Kansas, Tyson probably would have been a role player behind featured players like Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson and Kevin McCullar Jr.

At Auburn, Johni Broome and Jaylin Williams had already established themselves as the Tigers’ key players before Tyson’s arrival, so he probably would have played a supporting role with the Tigers.

But at Cal, under former NBA player Madsen, Tyson became a Pac-12 star as the focal point of the Golden Bears’ offense.  Tyson was Cal’s primary ballhandler and most consistent scorer, and demonstrated the athleticism and versatility that enabled him to shoot up the NBA draft board. 

He averaged 19.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and a team-leading 3.5 assists.  He showed he could score from the perimeter and penetrate off the dribble. He scored 30 points twice, had double-digit rebounds eight times, and had five assists or more nine times.  His defense was NBA quality, and he performed best at the end of games when it mattered most.

Tyson’s NBA draft status improved as the season wore on, and now he has a decent chance of being taken in the first round of the June 26 NBA draft.

The CBS Sports report notes several players at the Combine had taken less money in the short term so they could benefit in the long term. Like Tyson, Clemson’s PJ Hall and UConn’s Tristen Newton said they would have received bigger-money NIL deals at other schools, but saw long-term advantages to transferring to the school they chose.

It is noteworthy that Stanford transfer Andrej Stojakovic said a major reason he chose to come to Cal was Tyson’s transformation into an NBA prospect under Madsen.  Of course, money may have been less of an immediate concern for Stojakovic, whose father, Peja, played in the NBA for 16 seasons. 

But it shows what some NBA hopefuls are considering when they transfer. NIL money matters, but for those who take the long view it’s not the only thing taken into account.

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Jake Curtis

JAKE CURTIS

Jake Curtis worked in the San Francisco Chronicle sports department for 27 years, covering virtually every sport, including numerous Final Fours, several college football national championship games, an NBA Finals, world championship boxing matches and a World Cup. He was a Cal beat writer for many of those years, and won awards for his feature stories.