It should come as no surprise to learn just how deeply into the well the recruiting pipeline reaches. Indiana coach Bob Knight sought solace during his stormy '85-86 season by driving downstate to marvel at our featured 9th-grader, Damon Bailey (read "You Love Him And You Hate Him", page 120, for more on Knight's love affair with Bailey). Calls to coaches, tournament organizers, scouts, camp directors and recruiting gurus turned up prospects down to the 6th grade. Of course opinions on who's best became more diverse at lower levels. And remember, potential does not ensure greatness. In 1979, Evansville 8th-grader Brian Miles was 6'4" and being hailed as the next Moses Ma-lone; now, at Oral Roberts, he's just another 6'6" small forward. Still, the seven players pictured on these pages have a good shot at being future Big Men On Campus. So do some others: 9th grade: Jamie Brandon, 6'3", Chicago. 8th: John Salley, 6'6", Baltimore. 7th: Terrence Rencher, 5'2", New York City. 6th: Damon McDougal, 5'2", Engle-wood, N.J. And don't forget the 11-and-under AAU tournament MVP, Tony Parham, 4'8", Landover, Md. He's a 5th-grader.
Marcus Liberty, 6'8", Chicago. Consensus choice after summer camp play. "What can't he do?" says scout Tom Konchalski. Could be Chicago's best ever.
Alonzo Mourning, 6'10", Chesapeake, Va. "Best big man since Kareem," says Five-Star's Howard Garfinkel, who has seen them all.
Kenny Anderson, 6', Queens, N.Y. Averaged 16 points, 8 rebounds as frosh. As point man, compares favorably with Nate Archibald and Pearl Washington.
Damon Bailey, 6'2", Heltonville, Ind. Three-time national AAU MVP, losing only one AAU game in four years. Averaged 30 points per game in 8th grade.
Barnabas James, 6'4", Los Angeles. Had 31 ppg, 18 rpg last season. Great agility and quickness for a big man. Draws comparisons with a young John Williams.
Brian Crow, 5'10", Orem, Utah. Great prospect if he sticks with hoops. Set national age-group record in pentathlon; could be an Olympic decathlete.
Michael Irvin, 5'2", Chicago. He averaged 18 points, 10 assists, 6 steals per game in 5th grade. Very advanced ball handler, great moves, great smile.