Future Game Changers (cont.)
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Skinny: Though Mitchell is only halfway through her Princeton High career, she has already set the women's basketball community abuzz. A 5-foot-7 guard with a smooth shot, excellent defensive intangibles and advanced ballhandling skills, Mitchell is the highest rated Class of 2014 prospect, according to ESPN. She's already been invited to participate in the U-18 USA National Team trials despite the fact that she doesn't turn 16 until November.
As a sophomore, Mitchell averaged 19.4 points, 3.9 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 2.9 steals, earning a First Team All-State selection. Despite her national praise, her father, Mark, insists it hasn't gone to her head yet.
"She said the ranking didn't mean anything to her," Mark told the The Cincinnati Inquirer. "She wanted to know when we were going to go work out next."
Evokes: Skylar Diggins, who led the Irish to the national championship game in 2012, for her similar offensive skill set and her quick hands.
Hometown: Mission Viejo, Calif.
Skinny: Coming off his freshman year at Capistrano Valley (Calif.) High, Norman made the USA Swimming Top 10 list for several events. He was listed for the 500 and 1,000 freestyle for boys age 14, and for the 500 free for boys age 15. He also posted a time of 15:50.41 in the 1,650 freestyle competition for the boys 14-and-under age group, the second best time in the country this year.
Just 14, Norman became the eighth swimmer in U.S. history under the age of 15 to break 16 minutes in the men's 1,500 freestyle. He accomplished that feat at the Missouri Grand Prix.
Evokes: Grant Hackett, who won Olympic gold for the 1,500 freestyle in 2004 and 2008, for his lightning-fast times and endurance in the same event.
Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
Skinny: The top-ranked big man and overall No. 3 player in the Class of 2014, according to Rivals.com, Okafor is touted for good reason. This past season, as a sophomore, the 6-foot-10 center averaged 21.9 points and 12.3 rebounds for Chicago's Whitney Young High, leading the Dolphins to the Illinois Class 4A Sectional semifinals.
A distant cousin of Wizards center Emeka Okafor, the 16 year old has received offers from countless Division-I programs. This summer, he's already led the FIBA U-17 national team to the title at a warm-up tournament in the Canary Islands and will compete for gold this week at the World Championships in Lithuania.
Evokes: Jared Sullinger, the recent Celtics' draft pick and one of his favorite players. He's even known to some as "Little Sully."
VIDEO: Get to know Jabrill Peppers
Hometown: Midland Park, N.J.
Skinny: A huge playmaker on both sides of the ball, Peppers helped powerhouse Don Bosco (N.J.) Prep to back-to-back New Jersey state championships. He is the top-ranked strong safety and No. 3 overall prospect in the Class of 2014, according to 247Sports, and was named the Air Force National Sophomore of the Year in 2011. He was also named the National Freshman of the Year in 2010.
After dazzling as both running back and cornerback, Peppers transferred to nearby Paramus (N.J.) Catholic in February. His greatest asset might be his speed, as he set the New Jersey Non-Public Class A outdoor 100-meter dash record with a time of 10.77 seconds. The 16 year old already holds offers from several of the most prestigious college football programs in the country: Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Rutgers, South Carolina and UCLA.
Evokes: Patrick Peterson, the dynamic first-round draft pick by the Arizona Cardinals last year.
Hometown: Stockbridge, Ga.
Skinny: A 16-year-old Chicago native who attends the USTA training center headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla., Townsend is the No. 1-ranked junior in the world. Despite the lofty expectations that accompany such a title, Towensend has been a star thus far on the junior circuit.
In January, she took home the singles and doubles junior titles at the 2012 Australian Open, becoming the first American to accomplish a sweep at a Grand Slam since Lindsay Davenport at the 1992 U.S. Open. Townsend followed that up with a singles third-round and doubles semifinal finish at the French Open.
Following her impressive run, Townsend should be able to make good on her goal of cracking the Women's Tennis Association's Top 200 by season's end, when she conceivably will turn pro.
Evokes: Martina Navratilova, her idol who also played lefthanded and wasn't afraid to charge the net, for her aggressive all-court power game.
Hometown: Pearland, Texas
Skinny: Arguably the top women's basketball prospect in the Class of 2014, Turner is a 6-foot-3, explosive forward who possesses a fantastic combination of size and athleticism. In March she was named to the U-17 USA World Championship Team, the only player from the Class of 2014 to make the cut. She turned 16 on July 5.
While Turner hasn't fully developed a perimeter game, she is a force in the paint and averaged more than 20 points and 10 rebounds at Manvel High last season. On the defensive end, Turner is a force. She averaged 4.7 blocks and recorded an eye-popping 15 blocks in a Feb. 21 victory over Wheatley (Texas) High.
Evokes: WNBA stars Maya Moore and Candace Parker, for her body frame and immense potential.
Hometown: Coos Bay, Ore.
Skinny: A seventh grader at Millicome Middle School, Wittlake Jr. amassed a 306-1 career record over four years with Team Bucs wrestling club (coached by Wittlake's father). He also won back-to-back national titles in all three styles of wrestling (folkstyle, freestyle and Greco- Roman) in 2010 and '11, becoming only the sixth wrestler to win two straight triple crowns. In addition to capturing the Oregon state title in scholastic wrestling, Wittlake was named to the 2011-12 list of Future Olympians by USA Wrestling. He'll compete on USA Wrestling's Tour of America folkstyle circuit this fall.
With nine national titles under Wittlake's belt, it's no surprise that the 12 year old is garnering so much attention. Looking ahead, Wittlake hopes to become a four-time state champ in high school, attend Oregon State and become a four-time NCAA champ. He also has the Olympics in mind.
"I have big things ahead of me," he said.
Evokes: Wrestling icon Cael Sanderson, who posted a 159-0 record at Iowa State.
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