Unbeknown to the great majority of Americans, there is some 10, 11 or 12-year-old kid who swings a bat harder, shoots a jump shot better, putts a golf ball more precise or throws a football with more accuracy than anyone his or her age. They are what you would call child prodigies. By the time they are old enough to graduate from high school and generate nationwide hoopla, they become teen phenoms. In this case, meet John Wall and Byrce Harper, two athletes who are sure to help change the landscape of their respective sports.
Wall is the freshman point guard at Landon’s stomping grounds who already has the people of the Bluegrass state referring to him as “God.” Prior to arriving at Kentucky, Wall was dubbed as the most highly touted high school basketball player since that other high school prodigy from Akron. The young man from Raleigh, North Carolina, who turned down both Duke and UNC, is so good so early that he is already being referred to as the best player in the country and a sure fire lock for the first overall draft pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. For good reason, too.
His ball handling ability is unlike anyone, regardless of age. His leadership abilities are becoming more and more evident with each game on the collegiate level. And his flair for the dramatic may be his best quality. Last month, Wall and Kentucky squared off against national powerhouse Connecticut in the world’s most popular arena, Madison Square Garden. With his team leading by one point with roughly six minutes left in the game, what happened next only added to the constantly evolving legend that is John Wall.
Sports Illustrated dubbed Byrce Harper as “the LeBron James of baseball.” Albert Pujols simply described him as “amazing.” Like Wall in basketball, Harper is the presumptive first pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. Leaving high school early, Harper, who received his GED this month, will be playing college baseball at the College of Southern Nevada in the spring of 2010. Sure, his bat speed is faster than most major leaguers and his I.Q. for the game has been reviewed as astronomical, but it’s the urban legends surrounding him which have people talking.
Aside from having the longest homerun (502 feet) in the history of Tampa Bay Rays’ Tropicana Field, there is one specific incident which has cultivated his legend. During his freshman year at Las Vegas High School, Harper launched a baseball into orbit which would eventually travel 570 feet. The ball went over “the right field fence, two trees, another fence, a sidewalk, five lanes of traffic on elevated South Hollywood Boulevard and yet another sidewalk, until it finally landed in the brown, undeveloped desert.”
Whether Wall and Harper live up to their potential remains to be seen. We do, however, have a little less than seven months until both of these young men turn professional. Until then, jump on the bandwagon before the entire world becomes a fan, and thus brings along an equal amount of antagonists labeling them overrated.