"Third grade to sixth—it’s that time of life when magic is always just around the corner, when life hasn’t beaten it out of you," Klimchock says. "If Terrelle has a fault, it’s that he still hasn’t learned that magic isn’t always possible. All the times on court he’d try to thread a pass through a wall of defenders and it didn’t happen, he’d look at me, mystified. I’m halfway thinking There’s a wall there. But the other half, I’m mystified myself, because I’d expected it to go through."
He grew four inches, to six-four, and the look in his eye got even darker. "It was like the year Robert Johnson went away, sold his soul to the devil, and came back possessed," Klimchock says. One evening before practice, early in Pryor’s freshman year, Klimchock found him standing with his back to the basket, six feet out. "He says, ‘Coach, look,’ takes off backwards and throws it down, all backwards," Klimchock recalls. It defied physics, and it defied imagination to try it. "I thought, The body alone cannot do this," Klimchock says. "Something has to happen in the mind."
That much is clear at Pryor’s graduation party in late May, held downtown at the American Legion Hall. For four hours, there are never fewer than 400 in the hall. Pryor, aglow in an orange Lacoste shirt, has a lantern-jaw smile for everyone as he works the room, signing place mats ("So this is for everyone at Nancy’s Diner?") and picking up babies ("God, she’s a beauty, isn’t she?"), then moving on the instant there’s a pause. As the day draws to a close, there are a lot of long faces. Jeannette’s first citizen is all grown up and leaving home.