The elite eight
Whether in the NBA, NHL or the Olympics, these athletes have NEXT
Jameis Winston and Dorial Green-Beckham aren't the only high school athletes with bright futures ahead of them. Here are eight athletes who you'll be hearing even more from real soon.
Kellyn Acosta, soccer
Acosta is part of the next generation for U.S. soccer. The athletic defender from Plano, Texas, is rated as the nation's top player in the Class of 2013, and he has already proved he can produce on the biggest stages. Acosta made the U.S. U-17 men's national team last season and worked his way into the starting lineup for the Under-17 World Cup in Mexico, and it may only be a matter of time before he's starring for the men's national team at the 2018 World Cup. Or maybe even 2014
Bracy is the fastest man in high school sports. And when you add it to everything else on his résumé, it's clear Bracy is something special: He's the national record holder in the 55 (6.08) and was the gold-medal winner in the 100 at the USATF Juniors last year (10.05). Odds are Bracy will eventually find his way to the Olympics (if not in 2012, then in 2016), but in the meantime, he'll have to settle for being a two-sport star at Florida State. That's right, in addition to being the nation's top sprinter, the Boone (Orlando, Fla.) senior is an All-American football player.
Byron Buxton, baseball
The name that most often pops up in comparisons to Buxton, a senior outfielder at Appling County (Baxley, Ga.), is Justin Upton. And considering that last year Upton led the Arizona Diamondbacks to the playoffs and finished fourth in the NL MVP race, that's pretty lofty praise. So while there hasn't been much for Houston Astros fans to cheer about recently, here's one ray of sunshine: Your team has the first pick in next month's draft, and there's a good chance it's taking Buxton.
Johnathan Gray, football
Texas Longhorns fans are getting antsy. A 13-12 record over the past two years for a team used to greatness will do that. But there is a silver -- or should we say Gray? -- lining to all this. The down years didn't scare off Gray, the record-setting running back from Aledo (Aledo, Texas). The No. 2 player in the 2012 ESPN 150, Gray became the nation's all-time leader in touchdowns scored with 205. Expect him to be Texas' most dynamic playmaker since Vince Young. Can a trip back to a BCS bowl be far behind?
Shun Yat Hak, golf
A three-time Rolex Junior All-American, Hak is the clear-cut top amateur in America. A native of Hong Kong and current Lake Mary Prep (Lake Mary, Fla.) senior, Hak is No. 1 in the Polo Golf Rankings coming off wins at the Rolex Tournament of Champions and the TaylorMade-adidas Golf Junior. He also finished second at the PING Invitational and fourth at the HP Boys Championship. Hak is the youngest player to make a cut on the European Tour, as a 14-year-old at the 2008 Hong Kong Open.
Nyjah Huston, skateboarding
Having competed at the X Games since he was just 11, Huston's combination of talent and consistency makes him the young gun to beat in the Skateboard Street competition. The 17-year-old, home-schooled Davis, Calif., native entered X Games 17 last summer as the two-time defending Skateboard Street silver medalist. He repeated as overall Street League champion in 2011, winning all three stops before grabbing his first X Games gold. Huston capped off 2011 with three TransWorld awards for "Best Video Part," "New Era Reader's Choice" and "Best Street."
Seth Jones, ice hockey
Jones is built like a basketball player (6-foot-3) -- his dad, after all, is former NBA stalwart Popeye Jones. But Seth prefers to do work on the ice. A member of Team USA's Under-18 Worlds squad and one of North America's top prospects, Jones decided last week to bypass college and play for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. In 2013, the two-way defenseman could potentially be selected first overall in the NHL draft. The 17-year-old from Plano, Texas, might be raising the Stanley Cup before long.
Shabazz Muhammad, basketball
Muhammad is tired of hearing about how the Class of 2012 is down. About how a kid, Nerlens Noel, who up until a few months ago was a junior reclassified as a senior and took his spot atop the ESPN 100. So Muhammad introduced himself to a national audience at the McDonald's All-American Game. The 6-foot-6 senior swingman from Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) won the dunk contest and copped MVP honors in the game. Now he's off to UCLA, where he'll try to revitalize a once-storied program.
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