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This story appears in the Jan. 9, 2012 NEXT issue of ESPN The Magazine.
EACH YEAR we feverishly debate the question "Who's next?" This year we took the party online, hosting voting online at espn.com/next from Dec. 5-18. And while we enjoyed having nearly 300,000 of you join the conversation, for the most part, we'll have to agree to disagree.
|Fans picked Harper as the NEXT baseball star.|
Bryce Harper, 47 percent
Runners up: Mike Stanton (20 percent); Matt Moore (13 percent); Mike Trout (11 percent); Yu Darvish (9 percent)
"Bryce Harper has a huge power projection and could approach .300 if his game continues to mature."
"Mike Stanton has already become a star. No need to project him; he's already there."
"Mike Trout is Bryce Harper without the attitude. People should reward someone for being good and a good guy."
"No love for YU DARVISH? I've seen him play in Japan and he is legit."
Get more reader comments and learn about the baseball nominees here.
Chase Elliot, 50 percent
Runners up: Courtney Force (39 percent); Darrell Wallace Jr. (5 percent); Ryan Truex (4 percent); Josepf Newgarden (2 percent)
"Courtney is No. 1! I can hardly wait to see her whip the boys in 2012."
"You want to see talent? Just wait for Chase. I have watched him over the past three years, and he has gotten better every year. He is smooth behind the wheel and calm, cool and collected."
"I started off as a Bill Elliott fan. It's nice to know that I will have his protege, Kasey Kahne, and son, Chase, to cheer for in the years to come."
Get more reader comments and learn about the motorsports nominees here.
|Fans picked Graham as the NEXT football star.|
Jimmy Graham, 42 percent
Runners up: Cam Newton (32 percent); Andrew Luck (18 percent); Jadeveon Clowney (6 percent); Dre Kirkpatrick (2 percent)
"I was a Cam Newton doubter. He proved me wrong."
"Clowney is amazing. He ran a 4.4. At that size, that's unheard of. He has a legitimate chance to be the second defensive Heisman winner."
"Graham is a heck of a tight end, but Newton is a rookie at the NFL's most important position, and he's already matched, broken or is about to break several passing and rushing records."
"Luck is number one on this list because he is the real deal."
Get more reader comments and learn about the football nominees here.
Anthony Davis, 42 percent
Runners up: Kyrie Irving (23 percent); Jabari Parker (16 percent); Andre Drummond (10 percent); Perry Jones (9 percent)
"The NBA is going to be on fire around 2016-17 if all these recruits pan out. Guys like Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose will be at their peaks, and then you'll have guys like Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond."
"Jabari Parker is an insane talent and will be a beast in the future, but Anthony Davis' skill set, size and athleticism at this age are ridiculous. He could be a franchise changer in the very near future."
"People hating on Kyrie are in for a big surprise this season. His play will do all the talking."
Get more reader comments and learn about the basketball nominees here.
|Fans picked Neymar as the NEXT soccer star.|
Neymar, 40 percent
Runners up: Brek Shea (18 percent); Sydney Leroux (18 percent); Mario Gotze (12 percent); Ben Lederman (12 percent)
"Shea still needs to work on his speed, but I think he is on his way to becoming a great soccer player. One more season in MLS and he could compete in Europe for a starting position, rather than a bench seat."
"The rest of these guys might be NEXT, but Gotze is now."
"Brek Shea will be the next big American, but the top young talents worldwide are Neymar, Gotze and Eden Hazard."
"Neymar will never be top in my mind until he proves he can play in Europe."
Get more reader comments and learn about the soccer nominees here.
WINNER, ACTION SPORTS
Ryan Decenzo, 34 percent
Runners up: Torin Yater-Wallace (25 percent); Owen Wright (19 percent); Jess Kimura ( 12 percent); Levi Sherwood (10 percent)
"Torin will be the next big name. He will push halfpipe skiing and all-around freeskiing to much higher levels and probably be the best ever in the sport after he is finished."
"Torin was 15 when he hit the international stage. A gold medal at the summer X Games in skateboarding is sick, but let's see how many gold medals he has when he is 25."
-- Colter Birk
Get more reader comments and learn about the action nominees here.
|Fans picked McIlroy as their NEXT golfer.|
Rory McIlroy, 64 percent
Runners up: Lexi Thompson (16 percent); Patrick Cantlay (8 percent); Webb Simpson (6 percent); Yani Tseng (6 percent)
"Think about this: Lexi Thompson has 30 or so years left in her career. That's a long time to build a legacy."
"After watching golf these past few weeks, I'd have to say that Tiger Woods 2.0 is NEXT."
"No question, Rory McIlroy has already made it in golf."
Get more reader comments and learn about the golf nominees here.
Christina McHale, 33 percent
Runners up: Sloane Stephens (28 percent); Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (18 percent); Richard Berankis (11 percent); Grigor Dimitrov (10 percent)
"Christina McHale is hands down the next women's tennis superstar. Her work ethic and determination to be the best will take her to the top in the next few years."
"Pavlyuchenkova is the most talented. It's not even close."
"I'm surprised Dimitrov hasn't broken onto the scene in a big way already. Let's hope he does this coming season."
Get more reader comments and learn about the tennis nominees here.
|Fans picked dos Santos as their NEXT fighter.|
Junior Dos Santos, 41 percent
Runners up: Amir Khan (18 percent); Phil "Mr. Wonderful" Davis (17 percent); Saul Alvarez (15 percent); Gary Russell Jr. (9 percent)
"These MMA guys are 5-0, but that's not even out of the starting gate in boxing. Let's see if they can prove themselves and get to 15-0."
"Khan is an established champ, and Alvarez has a belt he's been defending, but of the two, I think ALVAREZ has the best chance at becoming a crossover star."
"Amir Khan is a future prizefighter, and the kid has a mouth on him that appeals to boxing fans. Sounds like someone in the game now -- Floyd!"
Get more reader comments and learn about the fighting nominees here.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 40 percent
Runners up: Seth Jones (34 percent); Nail Yakvpov (12 percent); Aaron Ekblad (8 percent); Nathan MacKinnon (6 percent)
"Seth Jones is incredible, has a great attitude and could be a first in Texas history: a kid from Dallas with a chance to go No. 1 in the draft."
"Ekblad can be a future stud, but he needs to work on his physicality and skating skills. Yakupov is the best of the bunch."
"Hopkins is on pace to do something only Crosby, Malkin and Ovechkin have done since the lockout: average a point per game in his rookie season. He's proving he's NEXT."
Get more reader comments and learn about the hockey nominees here.
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