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One heir apparent to their legacy is Wroten, who is experiencing a pressure none of the current pros ever knew: He has been hyped as the next big thing since his freshman year at Garfield, when he was rated the top player in the nation in his class. A sculpted 6'5" point guard, Wroten has an enviable athletic pedigree: His dad, Tony Wroten Sr., was a tight end at Washington in the early '80s, while his mom, Shirley Walker Wroten, ran track for the Huskies and later at Arizona State. An aunt, Joyce Walker, was a two-time All-America guard at LSU before becoming one of the first female Harlem Globetrotters. And Nate Robinson is his second cousin.
Aside from superb athleticism, the thing that most distinguishes Wroten, says Haskins, is that "he sees things like professional players see them." Little wonder: Wroten has been playing with pros since he was 10. Hennings recalls a day a few years back when Wroten, then in eighth grade, was playing one-on-one against Roy at a gym on Washington's campus. "They must have played seven games, and Tony was mad because he couldn't beat Brandon," says Hennings. "He didn't care that he was going against a lottery pick."
Wroten hurt his knee playing receiver in his first football game for Garfield in September, and the surgery and subsequent rehab have kept him off the court this season. Once he gets healthy, the parade of big brothers such as Roy, Crawford and Conroy will show up at his house to take him to work out. "Sometimes they don't even tell me they're coming," says Wroten. "It's just, Let's go."
Anyone in Seattle's basketball circle will tell you the community has been lucky—in the humble, hardworking character of the guys who have reached the top ranks of the sport and set an example for younger players, and in the quality of the area's coaches, many of whom grew up together and share a hard-nosed, team-first philosophy. Even the region's long history of being overlooked is an advantage. "Maybe coaches around the country know about Seattle's talent, but players don't," says Aaron Bright, a senior point guard at Bellevue High who has signed with Stanford. "When they see FRIENDS OF HOOP SEATTLE on our jerseys, it doesn't exactly strike fear in their hearts. 'Seattle?'" He wrinkles his nose as he mimics the doubters. "I'm sure we'd get more respect if we said we were from Texas," he continues. "It makes us want to prove something."
Haskins says that playing with a chip on your shoulder is a fundamental skill in Seattle. "We teach our kids that," he says. "When you get on the court, you do have something to prove. Especially when you're playing kids from other areas. [Seattle is] not yet seen as a Chicago or a New York or an L.A., a basketball powerhouse. But we all feel like we can take the best 10 from Seattle and beat anybody in the country."
Players are also encouraged to let their results, not their style, speak for them. In a town where Gore-Tex and fleece pass for fashion statements, bling isn't just uncool, it's folly. "It would just get covered up with a sweater or a raincoat," says former Garfield coach Wayne Floyd with a laugh.
Nobody sees much need for posses, either. "You always see a lot of people around guys like LeBron, but these dudes here act like normal people," says Thomas, a former Friends of Hoop player who sports a tattoo of Tacoma's area code, 253. "They have money, but you see them around, they're friendly. They aren't surrounded by people or wearing a lot of jewelry. They're low-key. That's what the Seattle vibe is."
Here's low-key: When Brooks graduated from Oregon in 2007, he held his graduation party in the '50s-era gym of the Rotary Boys and Girls Club in Seattle's Central District, where he grew up. He still shows up at the club when he's in town. "He'll go in there, get a snack, go up to the computer lab," says Hennings. "You'd think he was one of the kids. These guys let the kids know that they are regular people and that what they've accomplished is attainable, if the kids do the right things."
Crawford spent just over $100,000 renovating the gym at Rainier Beach High four years ago, and he has taken over sponsorship of the pro-am league that Doug Christie started several years back. He also hosts a citywide July Fourth barbecue, holds an annual kids' basketball camp and raises money through his foundation to fund the salaries of 10 public school athletic trainers. He also bought defibrillators for each of the 10 area high schools. As if that weren't enough, this year Crawford hosted a back-to-school hoops clinic, a free event that included basketball instruction and backpacks full of school supplies for hundreds of kids. "This is what I feel like I'm supposed to do, give back to the community I came from," says Crawford. "I love doing it."
Roy has started a foundation to provide disadvantaged kids with academic tutoring and access to affordable athletic training and facilities. But he also does a lot of what Floyd, his former coach, calls "small things with a gigantic impact," such as calling a player to offer encouragement. "These aren't the million-dollar-check stories," says Haskins, "but if you want to know the secret to Seattle's success in basketball, that's it."