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.
And he's 11 years old.
His name is Kendall Marshall. He's 5'1", weighs 90 pounds and is known as "Butter" for the way he spreads the ball around. He likes macaroni and cheese but not girls. In June, HoopScoopOnline.com, one of the best-known websites covering blue-chip recruits, ranked him the No. 1 fifth-grade player in America for last season.
You didn't know fifth-graders were ranked? Where you been? Tora Bora?
"Some kids in the neighborhood told me about it," says Kendall, now a sixth-grader who will be the first...uh...man off the bench for the Evangel Christian High varsity this winter in Woodbridge, Va., despite being six years younger than many of his teammates. "I didn't know what to think. I guess it's cool."
The very fact that someone ranks fifth-graders tells you how nutso all of us have become about sports.
"Who does this benefit?" says Will Robinson, the coach at nearby Woodbridge High. "If the kid pans out, is that a feather in somebody's cap? And who does it hurt? It hurts the kid. He's got these expectations the rest of his life."
Kendall says, "Sometimes kids come up to me and go, 'Hey, you're not all that.' One kid tried to get me mad so I'd fight him, but I didn't." Can't you see the poor kid if he doesn't lead every list from now until college?
Fan No. 1: That kid Marshall. So much potential, but what a bust.
Fan No. 2: I know. He didn't even make Playboy's Sixth-Grade All-America team this year.