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Dribblephilia
Rick Reilly
November 25, 2002
He's ranked No. 1 nationally in his class. Basketball coaches ask about him constantly. He'll play more than 80 games this year around the nation.
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November 25, 2002

Dribblephilia

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It might be funny, if it didn't make you want to puke. Back when the fifth-grade list came out, Kendall was a 4'9" point guard. It's trouble when the list is taller than you are.

And you just know, somewhere, somebody's got a scouting report on the kid: Great spot-up J, quick hands, cries when he skins his knee.

What will they rank next? Tall couples who have really good genes!

It's this kind of hype that tricked Leon Smith and Korleone Young—both of whom were ranked No. 1 in their class as middle-school players—to go pro out of high school. Now both are out of the NBA and wondering where their futures went.

"The problem is these kids start to believe their press clippings," says Francis. "Then they stop working on their game. They're like, 'I'm 6'10", I can shoot, pass and dunk. And I'm in eighth grade. I've made it.' "

If you think the hype can't get to a kid's melon, you haven't heard of the legendary O.J. Mayo, from Huntington, W.Va., who tops most eighth-grade lists, signs autographs daily, has his own website (and a moustache) and plays at a Christian school that isn't even in his state—along with five other out-of-state teammates.

Uh, Sister Magdalene? Can I be excused from math today? I gotta do MTV's Cribs.

Hopefully, it won't happen with Kendall.

"No, sir, I haven't gotten too excited about the whole thing," he says," 'cause I know I got my whole life ahead of me."

That figures, huh? The one person in all of this who is not acting like a sixth-grader is the sixth-grader.

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