The precipice: That's where these seven teenagers are now. They stand at the verge of greatness, loaded with promise, and yet nothing about their professional futures -- not titles, not riches, not fame -- is promised to them. Obstacles can arise; distractions can crop up; injuries can impede progress. And the toughest part? "Waiting to see what happens next year," says Michael Main, a 17-year-old pitcher with a 99-mph fastball. "I don't want to fast forward or slow down, but I'm starting to get a little anxious."
So much can change. A.J. Green wasn't even interested in football three years ago. "Now it's my favorite sport," says the 16-year-old wideout. "The people and the energy of the game. I love the whole picture." That passion will be vital if these teens are to succeed at the highest levels of sport. "I can improve on everything," says 15-year-old hockey center John Tavares. And he'll have to.
In setting an ETA for each of these players to reach the biggest stage, SI is assuming a smooth and upward career arc, hopeful that someday in these pages, long after their glory days have passed, we'll be asking, Where are they now?
TYREKE EVANS 16 GUARD, Aston, Pa.
ACHIEVEMENTS The consensus top recruit in the class of '08, Evans averaged 25.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 3.8 steals while playing both guard positions as a sophomore last season at American Christian School.
REMINISCENT OF? Tracy McGrady. Though Evans, at 6'5" and 206 pounds, is three inches shorter than the Houston Rockets' swingman, he's similarly smooth. McGrady, says Evans, "can do it all. He reminds me of me."
COACH'S COMMENT "Tyreke makes the game look so easy, and he has the ability to rise to the occasion," says Jim Peper. "He played a lot at the point last year, but I think his best position is at the two. He has incredible range and a very quick first step, so he's most effective on the perimeter."
ETA In the NBA by 2009. Though many experts believe Evans would be ready to turn pro out of high school -- if that were still allowed -- he's likely to spend a year at North Carolina, UConn or Villanova.
PETER UIHLEIN 16 GOLFER, North Dartmouth, Mass.
ACHIEVEMENTS He's ranked No. 1 in the world junior ratings by Golfweek after a 2005 season in which he won three national tournaments, finished in the top five in nine of his 16 events and was named the American Junior Golf Association's boys' player of the year. Uihlein (pronounced YOO-line) is the third youngest player to win the honor.
REMINISCENT OF? Phil Mickelson. The 6'1" Uihlein has superb length off the tee and shotmaking ability.
COACH'S COMMENT "I've heard so many coaches say that he's the only kid since Mickelson who has all the shots in his bag," says Tim Sheredy, a senior instructor at IMG's David Leadbetter Golf Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where Uihlein will be a junior. "The way Peter can control a golf ball's distance and trajectory is extraordinary."
ETA On the PGA Tour by 2012. Uihlein's father, Wally, is the chairman and CEO of Acushnet Company, which produces Titleist golf balls. "My parents have video footage of me with a club when I was in a walker," says Peter, who plans to graduate from college before turning pro.