It was September 2010 and I was serving as the Phoenix Suns' assistant director of basketball operations. Grant Hill, having recently returned from a summer sabbatical at Duke, walked into the training room.
"I just saw the best player in the nation," he said succinctly.
I asked him if he thought the kid from St. Patrick High School in New Jersey was that good. Hill replied that coach Mike Krzyzewski was going to "give the kid the keys," something he hadn't done with any freshman since Bobby Hurley. I was a bit skeptical; I had seen a couple of the kid's high school and AAU games, and while I was impressed by his poise and maturity on the court, I couldn't fathom Coach K giving that kind of freedom to a freshman.
I just saw the best player in the nation.
"-- Grant Hill, after watching Kyrie Irving as a freshman at Duke
Two months later, I sat down for my first look at Kyrie Irving as a collegiate basketball player. About 10 minutes later, I shut my notebook.
"This kid is clearly wasting his time playing another minute of college ball," I said to myself.
A few games later, he'd get injured and miss most of the remainder of the season. However, in those few appearances, he was one of the most NBA-ready freshmen I had ever seen, particularly at the point guard position.
Two years into his pro career, Irving seems destined for greatness, even gracing the cover of ESPN The Magazine's NEXT issue. How great? By 2015, he will be the best point guard in the NBA. Here's a scouting perspective on why.