Friday, November 11, 2011

Super 16 National Freshmen game mixtape

If you missed it, Emma Carmichael of wrote a revealing story on a freshmen all-star game that took place in New York City last month.

Its a terrific look into what is both good and bad about the phenomen that has been labeled grassroots basketball.

On the one hand, I don't necessarily think it is a bad thing to gather a group of kids -- be then 16 years old or 13 years old -- who excel at the sport and allow them to train with others of the same talent level. Dominating overmatched, prepubescent Justin Bieber stans isn't exactly going to get these players to improve, and I imagine it isn't all that much fun if these kids have a competitive streak in them.

But that said, it feels like that is where is should end. Eighth-graders shouldn't be getting scholarship offers from the best college basketball programs in the country. Because they are still kids. They are children. Very few 14 year old males have hit puberty, or hit their growth spurt. The ones that have -- the kids that develop early and get their strength, their athleticism, their size, and their five o'clock shadow while still in middle school -- tend to be the ones that dominate at that level.

Moreover, there are websites -- like that of Middle School Elite, which is owned and operated by Jerry Love, the father of Jerron Love, who just so happens to be the No. 1 Middle School player in the country according to the site -- that use opportunities like this to gain access and build rankings and try to make themselves a couple bucks.

That, I can't get on board with.

I have no issue with a 14 year old prodigy wanting to play against other players his size, his strength and his ability level. I don't think there is anything wrong with a kid wanting to get the best coaching he can, even if he's still in middle school.

But once you get into rankings and recruiting and the attention veers away from the sport itself, well, it gets creepy.

Why do I bring this up now? Well, there's now a mixtape out from the event. I'll present it to you without comment:

Well, with one comment: some of those kids look older than me.

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