From Sebastian Telfair’s appointment as “The Chosen One” to Demetrius Walker being the subject of a popular book, the careers of young phenoms has intrigued the masses for quite some time.
We take a look back at five players who were dubbed “great” as pre-teens and see how it all turned out for them.
O.J. Mayo averaged 23 points a game for Rose Hill’s (Ashland, Ky.) varsity squad as a seventh grader. He went on to star at North College Hill (Cincinnati) where he claimed two state titles. Mayo was voted Ohio's Mr. Basketball for two straight seasons and his team finished the season ranked No. 3 in the country. As a sophomore, Mayo averaged 27.4 points and 7.8 rebounds and became only the second sophomore named Ohio's Mr. Basketball. LeBron James was the first. Mayo transferred to Huntington (Huntington, W.Va.) for his senior season and was named West Virginia Player of the Year after averaging 28.2 points, 7.2 assists and 6.1 rebounds a game and winning the state title. Mayo spent a season at Southern Cal before being drafted third overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2008. He was immediately traded to the Memphis Grizzlies. Mayo averaged 11.3 points for the Grizzlies last season.
Demetrius Walker was dubbed “the next LeBron James” when he was just 12 years old, was featured in Sports Illustrated at 14 and was also the subject of the book "Play Their Hearts Out." Walker went on to be named all-conference during his freshman season at Fontana (Fontana, Calif.) High School. He ended up transferring to St. Mary’s (Phoenix) and in 2009 led the school to its first state title since 2001. Walker averaged four points a game at Arizona State as a freshman and ended up transferring to New Mexico, where he currently averages 8.9 points per game as a sophomore.
Sebastian Telfair was widely regarded as the next great New York City point guard since he was in the fifth grade, dubbed “The Chosen One” by the Dallas Morning News as a seventh grader and was the subject of the book “The Jump.” The Brooklyn-born baller finished his high school career at Lincoln as the all-time leading scorer in New York with 2,785 points, claiming three PSAL titles and one state title. He averaged 33.2 points and 9.2 assists his senior season and was picked 13th by the Portland Trailblazers in the 2004 NBA draft. Last season, he averaged seven points a game for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Taylor King made national headlines when he committed to UCLA prior to his freshman year at Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.). He eventually signed with Duke out of high school, but bounced around from Duke to Villanova and then last season to Concordia University in Irvine, Calif. King decided not to return to Concordia this season and is now playing for the London Lightning of the National Basketball League of Canada.
Ryan Boatright committed to Southern Cal before he even picked a high school. He went on to star at East Aurora (Aurora, Ill.), where he averaged 31.2 points per game last season as a senior. Boatright never did end up at USC, switching his commitment to West Virginia and then switching his pledge to UConn, where he’s now a freshman reserve guard.
Jon Mahoney contributed to this story.