When I was growing up, the closest you got to knowing about the rising stars entering college was the two-page High School Top 100 section at the back of Street & Smith's magazine. That was it. No ESPN. No Internet. No scouting services for the average college hoops junkie to subscribe to.
Now, with the plethora of attention these young high school phenoms receive, there is pressure on a college coach to win during two seasons: the regular season and the recruiting season. We at ESPN have added to the hype by showcasing this talent before many of them even get to college. They are household names before their first TV timeout.
Honestly, it's fun to watch a Greg Oden or LeBron James play with his high school teammates before heading to college or the NBA. It's an "I was there at the beginning" feeling, sort of like watching Mickey Mantle when he was a Yankees minor leaguer in Joplin, Mo.