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Hey, Coaches, Leave Those Kids Alone

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If you enjoy watching tiny basketball players running rings around their confused, older and larger opponents, and you can't wait for the Golden State Warriors' season to start, then you'll enjoy the video here, which is part of a Washington Post story on 10-year-old phenom Justin Jenifer of Baltimore. It's a rather lengthy piece on Jenifer done earlier this month, part of a series on youth basketball by the Post's Eli Saslow. Justin's story is refreshing for two reasons: The kid genuinely seems to be having fun (during games his thoughts center on the snack bar, and he sleeps with his basketball). And his dad makes the comment: "If Justin wanted to give up basketbal tomorrow, I would be fine with that."

But it's also a little disturbing, mainly because of this:

During the last two seasons, youth basketball coaches had anointed Justin as one of the most talented 10-and-under players in the country — a distinction that would have won him nothing but cheap trophies a decade ago. But now, Justin had become the sought-after prize, pursued by Amateur Athletic Union summer league teams that troll nationally for players, high school coaches who recruit aggressively and shoe companies whose scramble for potential future endorsers continues for a second decade.


One AAU travel team in Atlanta reportedly wanted Justin so badly that they offered to fly him in for games. But his father decided to keep him in the same inner city league in which he had always played, so that he could "grow up happy and carefree." In case you didn't know, AAU basketball seems to be getting worse every year, and the Post series does a good job of documenting that. But Justin just somehow seems to be above it all.

Actually, we're surprised that ESPN hasn't televised any of his games ...

Is There Such A Thing As A Perfect 10? [Washington Post]

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