The basketball world is watching Jaylin Fleming. Why?! Because he is the best 10-year-old basketball player in the US, and if you don’t believe us, just ask the legion of high school, college, or even NBA scouts circling him.
“I’ve never seen a kid like this,” Knicks head athletic trainer Roger Hinds said. Refiloe Lethunya, a former Division I player, coach and NBA scout said: “As far as his age, he’s the best that I’ve seen.”
Jaylin’s already worked out with both the Knicks and the Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose, and he’s visited more than one college. “He’s better than me—that’s what’s crazy about it,” Rose tells the Chicago Tribune.
The push to get kids involved in sports at an early age is nothing new. Nor is the practice of high schools and colleges pursuing young athletes. But this activity usually begins no earlier than at the sixth-grade level, when scouts start ranking players. Fifth grade is off the radar. So for a kid still in elementary school to get this type of attention is remarkable.
“When you start discussing contracts, recruitment and commitment, you’re mapping out a life when it should be a time for exploration,” said Dave Czesniuk of Northeastern University’s Sport and Society center. “Hopefully, this doesn’t limit his experiencing everything a 10-year-old should be experiencing.”
“It’s crazy,” St. Joseph High School coach Gene Pingatore said. “The fact that Jaylin’s getting all this publicity so early means that the sharks are out there, whether it’s colleges trying to set this kid up for future recruitment or agents.
“The good thing is that he has a family that’s going to protect him. But think about the kids who don’t have a solid family background. They’re susceptible to a lot of stuff — offers, money under the table, you can’t imagine the stuff that goes on.”
Jaylin, for his part, is taking it all in stride. “I’m a humble kid,” he says, “who’s trying to achieve a goal.” [via Chicago Tribune]