The Next Big Thing
Eddy Curry may be the next high school player to go straight to the NBA
When eddy curry was growing up, he didn't look in the mirror and see a future millionaire athlete. He just saw an oversized kid who, despite being 6'2" in the seventh grade, was looked down upon by those around him. "There were a lot of mean kids in my neighborhood," he says. "They used to call me the Jolly Green Giant." Curry didn't start playing organized basketball until the seventh grade, and his too-small uniform embarrassed him so much that, to avoid having to suit up, he sometimes told his parents his game had been canceled. "That can be real traumatic for a kid, being talked about and not fitting in," says Curry. "I just didn't stop growing, and I didn't know why. I felt like it had no purpose, but it's all paying off now."
All eyes were on Curry again last week, at the Adidas ABCD Camp in Teaneck, N.J., but no one was putting him down. As he prepares for his senior season at Thornwood High in South Holland, Ill., Curry has filled out to an imposing 6'11", 295 pounds, yet he remains nimble enough to do a backflip. All that, combined with an SAT score that already meets NCAA eligibility requirements, should make him a prime recruiting target of every college coach in America. Curry, however, is so widely expected to enter next year's NBA draft that many of the nation's elite programs haven't bothered to call him.
Curry sounds exasperated that so many people are making that assumption, but in the next breath he concedes that they are probably correct—especially considering that Darius Miles, a 6'9" high school graduate, was selected third by the Los Angeles Clippers in last month's draft. "Darius is a real good player, but he's smaller than me," Curry says. "If I could go top five, man, it's pretty hard to turn that down."
Curry is still discovering the many ways in which life as an elite prospect can become complicated. During the past two summers, for example, he spent the first week in July at the Nike Ail-American Camp in Indianapolis, but after two of his AAU teammates were invited to the Adidas camp this year, Curry decided to join them. That prompted Nike's L.A.-based manager of high school basketball, Don Crenshaw, to make a futile trip to Curry's home outside of Chicago to ask him to reconsider. In addition, on June 9, DePaul coach Pat Kennedy hired Chicago State assistant Donnie Kirksey, who just happens to be Curry's second cousin, as an assistant coach. Curry insists Kirksey's hiring will not affect his decision on where he will go to college—if he goes to college—but it obviously won't hurt DePaul's chances. Kirksey has been closely involved in Curry's basketball development, and Curry called him last week to discuss his play at the Adidas camp.
Though his performance was uninspired at times—the consensus among evaluators was that he could stand to lose 20 pounds—that didn't appear to alter Curry's draft status. "He's just massive, and he's got great hands and feet," said one NBA assistant coach. "You can see he has to work on some things, but he'll get there."
Sebastian Telfair's Debut
And a Child Shall Lead Them
Eddy Curry may have been the best big man at the ABCD camp, but when it came to creating a buzz, he was dwarfed by 15-year-old Sebastian Telfair, a 5'10", 135-pound wisp of a point guard who has yet to play his first high school game. Sebastian, who is about to enter his freshman year at Brooklyn's Lincoln High and is a cousin of Lincoln's most famous hoops prodigy, Stephon Marbury, was supposed to be an observer at ABCD, but so many hoops gurus prodded camp director Sonny Vaccaro to let Sebastian play that Vaccaro extended an invitation when a slot became available. Sebastian may have been the youngest player competing, but by the end of the week many were calling him the best pure point guard in camp. "He's mature beyond his years," said one NBA scout. "He's so creative with the ball, he gets anywhere he wants on the floor, and he doesn't back down from anybody."
Added 10-year NBA veteran and TNT analyst Kenny Smith, "There are other guys here with more physical ability, but nobody has more poise and savvy at the point than he does."
Even Sebastian himself seemed surprised at how well he was playing—"It's a lot easier than I thought," he said—but it is worth noting that for every young New York City phenom such as Mar-bury and Kenny Anderson who made it to professional stardom, countless others never panned out In fact, the last guard to make a big splash at the ABCD camp at such a young age was Bronx native Jarrett Lockhart, who just completed a nondescript career at Pittsburgh and was not selected in last month's NBA draft.