News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Coaches say 14
too young for recruiting

USC offers youngster
basketball scholarship

By Michael Wetzel · 340-2462

Twenty-nine points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists per game. Those are pretty stellar numbers even if they do belong to a middle school basketball player in a Chicago suburb.

The statistics stand beside the name of 14-year-old Ryan Boatright.

Boatright attended a weekend basketball camp conducted by University of Southern California head coach Tim Floyd.

Boatright got more than a T-shirt and autographed photo. According to published reports, he received a scholarship offer from Floyd to play for the Trojans. Floyd also coached the NBA's Chicago Bulls.

The 5-foot-10 guard from Aurora, Ill., was quoted saying, "USC has been my number two school forever. North Carolina was number one. Los Angeles is great, and the weather and campus are beautiful."

Area high school basketball coaches agree 14 is a bit young to be offered a scholarship, even if the early bird gets the worm in this case.

Athens High coach Venard Hendrix knows a little bit about colleges looking at youngsters. His son, Richard, a 6-foot-8 forward, just completed his sophomore year with the Crimson Tide. Richard's 14.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game average earned him a spot on the All-SEC second team this past year.

Venard Hendrix said his son wasn't offered any deals at 14.

"I think 14 is too young," Venard Hendrix said.

"The offer was oral. I am pretty sure there is no legally binding commitment in this deal. Most kids going D-I will usually make a commitment in their junior year of high school and sign in November during the early signing period.

"The player and coaches should just let the recruiting process unfold. I think kids should enjoy their high school years, play the sports they want to play and not worry about this kind of stuff."

Priceville coach Darrell Haynes thinks 14 is definitely too young. He said he believes a player should not commit until after his junior year or even before the fall of his senior year in high school.

"There are too many factors that can change when you commit at that age," Haynes said.

He added: “You don’t even know if the coaching staff will be intact when it is time to go to college. The kid may not even have his academics in order. At that age, you haven’t taken any high school math or even an ACT. The school may be trying to take advantage of the kid and build some sort of loyalty.”

Lawrence County High’s Stanley Johnson could only shake his head at the Boatright news.

“Wow. Fourteen is mighty young,” he said. “I know that young people change their minds so much and that this kid will receive a lot of other opportunities over the next few years.”

Johnson said he likes the present system where players can sign in November of their senior years.

“Kids usually know where they want to go by the end of their junior years. They tend to put too much pressure on themselves. Signing early in their senior year takes that pressure off. Kids need to be boys before they can become men.”

He added players should
receive proper counseling about college life and the particular schools they are considering.

Austin High’s Demond Garth said players ought to play a couple of years in high school before being offered a spot on a college roster.

“I don’t really like the whole idea of signing a 14-year-old because the kid hasn’t proven himself yet in high school competition.

“But college coaches have to get the best players they can for the team.”

Daily Sports Writer Josh Cooper contributed to this report.

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