Where Will They Be?

You may not know their names or their faces just yet, but you will—and soon. These 15 teens are among the best in their sports in their age groups, and each one is on track to be a star at a major college, earn professional riches or go for gold at an Olympic Games. (In some cases, maybe all three)
July 13, 2008

Brooke Shaw
17 SNOWBOARDER
Litchfield, Conn.

AchievementsBrooke competes in the halfpipe and snowboardcross for the national team, oneof only two American women to ride in multiple events.

Reminiscent ofLindsey Jacobellis. The silver medalist in snowboardcross at the '06 WinterOlympics is the only other national team member who competes in two events.Their fathers were college roommates. "I rode with her every weekendgrowing up," says Brooke. "We're awesome friends and hang out all thetime."

Coach's comment"She's brave," says U.S. coach Peter Foley. "At a camp we just hadat Mount Hood, it was a really fast course, with big jumps in it, and she wascharging at it like the boys, not throwing on the brakes and looking forspeed."

Next step Foleyeventually will focus Brooke's training on snowboardcross, an event in which hesays she has a "really good chance" to make the 2010 Olympic team."She's among the top three or four women in the U.S. now," says Foley."From a potential standpoint and what we've seen in training, [her upsideis] even greater."

Jake Hernandez
16 CATCHER
Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Achievements The6'1", 180-pound junior at Los Osos High has batted .418 with 27 RBIs in 40varsity games. He is rated the best catcher in his class by the scoutingservice Perfect Game.

Reminiscent ofIvan Rodriguez. As a hitter, Jake has some power but can spray the ball to allfields. Defensively he's got a quick release and is skilled at throwing behindrunners to pick them off. "My strength is my arm. I believe I have acannon," he says. "I also like blocking balls."

Coach's comment"His quickness, reaction time and baseball maturity all really standout," says Anthony Vasquez, the Grizzlies' skipper. "He hits the ballwell on any count. He's calm under pressure."

Next step Jake hascommitted to USC but projects as a top pick in the 2010 MLB draft. His summercoach compares him to Kyle Skipworth and Cutter Dykstra, teammates who werehigh picks this year.

SeantrelHenderson
16 OFFENSIVE TACKLE
Minneapolis

AchievementsRecruiting guru Tom Lemming rates the 6'7", 303-pound Seantrel as the toprecruit in the class of 2010, saying that the Cretin-Derham Hall (St. Paul)standout "outruns running backs to the end zone."

Reminiscent ofBryant McKinnie. "A bunch of us were invited out to watch the Vikingspractice, and one of our coaches yells, 'Hey, that's Seantrel!'" recallsRaiders coach Mike Scanlon. "Seantrel looks like the [6'8", 335-pound]guy who's playing left tackle for the Minnesota Vikings."

Coach's comment"He moves really well—he's got very good feet," says Scanlon. "Alot of guys his age are just big and get by on bulk, but his technique is verygood."

Next stepSeantrel, who reportedly already has verbal scholarship offers from Florida,Notre Dame and Ohio State, has no college favorite. "As soon as September 1[when official, written offers can be made] rolls around, he's going to havemore choices than he knows what to do with," Scanlon says.

Nick Vena
15 SHOT-PUTTER
Whippany, N.J.

Achievements As afreshman at Morristown High, Vena won the National Scholastic IndoorChampionship and was second at the Nike Outdoor Nationals. Along the way hesmashed the indoor (66'7 1/4") and outdoor (67'10 1/4") freshmanrecords; his indoor throw was the best in the nation among all classes.

Reminiscent ofGarrett Johnson. Like the two-time NCAA champ at Florida State, the 6'4",260-pound Nick uses his speed and athleticism. "He's not a brute," sayshis father, Victor, who was a high school shot-putter. "He doesn't rely onhis weightlifting numbers for distance. He's turning on the ball more than manycollege athletes. It's a gift."

Coach's comment"Every day he works so hard, and he is so diligent and sowell-conditioned," says Colonials coach Paul Buccino. "He's a rotaryspinner and really has perfected his technique, in sticking to a powerposition."

Next step Nick,who was mentored in grades six through eight by Tony Naclerio, the throws coachfor the '96 U.S. Olympic team, is focused on "breaking records and winningmeets."

Lauren Avant
16 POINT GUARD
Memphis

AchievementsLauren has been Lausanne Collegiate School's starting point guard since she wasan eighth-grader, and she was voted the team captain before her freshmanseason. As a sophomore last winter she averaged 15.7 points and 5.4 assists tolead the Lynx to its first state title.

Reminiscent ofSemeka Randall, a two-time All-America at Tennessee and now coach at OhioUniversity. Like Randall, Lauren is not a gifted outside shooter, but she is astrong on-the-ball defender and a heady distributor.

Coach's comment"She's very unselfish," says Lynx coach Wayne Kelley. "She's a lotstronger than most guards her size [5'9"]. She's got room to improve on herthree-point shot, but she's great at shooting off the dribble."

Next stepTennessee offered Lauren a scholarship when she was in eighth grade, and shecommitted to the Lady Vols as a freshman. For now she says she'll pass on a procareer and become a doctor like her mother, Dana, a neurologist at MethodistUniversity Hospital in Memphis.

Logan Ruffin
14 AUTO RACER
Brentwood, Tenn.

AchievementsLogan, who turned 14 on July 7, won three Crate/ASA Late Model Series races atthe World Series of Asphalt in February; he was the youngest competitor in thefield and the youngest winner in the 31-year history of the event. Speed51.comalready touts him as the second-best short-track driver under 18.

Reminiscent ofMark Martin. "He knows how to wait," says Logan. "I want to beaggressive enough to win races but don't want to be the guy who wrecks just toget past someone."

Coach's comment"Whatever I tell him to do, in testing or during a race, to go low or high,he really listens," says crew chief Dick Woodman. "And he has his ownability to pick up speed. He's definitely advanced."

Next step NASCARmay bump its age minimum from 18 to 21, which would delay Logan's entry intoboth the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series. But when he turns 15, he can competein the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series.

Taylor Hall
16 CENTER
Kingston, Ont.

AchievementsPlaying for the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League, 6'1",180-pound Taylor led all first-year players with 45 goals in 63 games, adding39 assists. He was named the Canadian Hockey League's Rookie of the Year andhelped Canada win gold at this year's under-18 world championships.

Reminiscent ofPavel Bure. The fastest skater in the league, Taylor also has Bure's puregoal-scoring ability. "I'm not an overly physical guy," says Taylor,"but I like to handle the puck and make a lot of fun plays."

Coach's comment"He's not shy about going to the net in traffic with two or three guys onhim," says Spitfires coach Bob Boughner. "He's learned how to playwithout the puck. He was our best defensive forward. By the end [of the season]I could put him on the ice in any situation."

Next stepTaylor's December birthday means that he won't be eligible for the NHL draftuntil 2010. "He'll be a very high first-rounder," says Boughner, whoplayed 10 seasons in the NHL, "if not the first guy."

Ashton Purvis
16 SPRINTER
Oakland

Achievements Ajunior at Saint Elizabeth High, Ashton holds the national indoor freshman andsophomore records for the 200 meters (with a personal best of 23.53 seconds)and won the event at March's National Scholastic Indoor Championship. Last Julyshe represented the U.S. at the IAAF World Youth Championships in the CzechRepublic, finishing seventh in the 100 and fifth in the 200.

Reminiscent ofAllyson Felix. Ashton idolizes Felix, a fellow 5'6" sprinter fromCalifornia who turned heads early in high school, and likes to compare results.So far, so good: Like Felix, as a sophomore she won her first outdoor statetitle in the 100 and placed second in the 200.

Coach's comment"When you see her, you don't see anything that would wow you physically,but mentally she's just a bull," says Mustangs coach Fred Sims. "Shecompetes to win. She's not bulky or muscular, but she has a tremendous stride.It's not just a long stride—it's a powerful stride. She's able to really driveand strike the ground with some force."

Next step Oldersister Julian won the 100 hurdles at the World Youth Championships and will runfor Michigan; half sister Amber won the state long jump crown as a sophomoreand is bound for Oregon. Ashton will outdo them both. "She gets lettersfrom top schools every day," says Sims. "I have my mailbox atschool—and I'm also the head football coach—but those [recruiting] letters goin my box while Ashton has a special section."

Melanie Oudin
16 TENNIS PLAYER
Marietta, Ga.

Achievements Theworld's No. 2 junior, she won the USTA International Spring Championships andthe Easter Bowl tournament this spring and was the top seed at the French OpenJuniors, losing in the quarterfinals.

Reminiscent ofJustine Henin. "I'm like her, pretty small and really quick," saysMelanie, who's 5'5 1/2". "I get a lot of balls back and a lot ofvariety with different shots. I try to control the point instead of hit as hardas I can."

Coach's comment"She's mature in terms of her focus and mental toughness, and her biggeststrength is her passion for the game," says Brian de Villiers, thecodirector of tennis at Atlanta's Riverside Club. "Right now our biggestconcern is to make her stronger. She's not that tall, so for her serve, whichis always going to be an issue because of her height, we're working to getbetter spin and placement."

Next step Melanieturned pro in February and at week's end was No. 272 in the WTA Tour rankings.She can still enter junior tournaments, but she hopes soon to start trying toqualify for the main draw at the Grand Slams.

Bernard Tomic
15 TENNIS PLAYER
Gold Coast, Australia

Achievements AGerman-born Australian of Croatian descent, Bernard became the youngest winnerof the Australian Open Junior Championship last January. He's the only boy tohave won three different age-group titles at the Orange Bowl, one of the mostprestigious junior tournaments. Three months from his 16th birthday, he'salready the world's second-ranked junior.

Reminiscent ofNovak Djokovic. Like the Australian Open champion, Bernard is a versatile,workmanlike player with strong ground strokes and an all-court game.

Coach's comment"He's best back on the baseline, but he can come forward toserve-and-volley," says his coach and father, John. "He can hit harderthan some of the [men] in the top 20, but he has to improve his legs. Hisstrength will be better in two, three years."

Next step Bernardsigned with IMG when he was 13. "He is undoubtedly a phenom," says hisagent, Lawrence Frankopan. Bernard is in no rush to play full time on the ATPTour, but he will likely enter some pro events next year.

Meagan Morris
16 DEFENDER
Montclair, N.J.

Achievements Aniece of former New York Giants running back Joe Morris, Meagan has been amainstay on U.S. age-group soccer teams since she was invited to join theunder-15 squad as a 13-year-old; she currently is in the U-17 and U-20 playerpools. With Meagan as a stopper, Montclair High shut out 16 opponents in 21matches.

Reminiscent ofJoy Fawcett. At 5'1" Meagan is four inches shorter than the former nationalteamer but plays the same tenacious on-ball defense. "I make sure,"says Meagan, "I know [my opponent's] next move before she does."

Coach's comment"There's something about Meagan's size or style of play that youimmediately [notice]," says Mounties coach Chris Johnson. "She's a tinygal, but she's so reckless and so rough. She almost has a football mentality.She's been blessed with great speed and quickness, and despite her size she'sstrong as an ox."

Next step Johnsonplans to play Meagan more up front to generate scoring chances. She'll continueto be part of the national team program—she's one of five high schoolers in theU-20 pool—and will have her choice of colleges.

Logan and HunterStieber
17 and 15 WRESTLERS
Monroeville, Ohio

AchievementsLogan, a junior, went 94--1 in his first two years at Monroeville High, winningstate championships at 103 and 119 pounds. He also won the 119-pound title atthe nation's top high school tournament, the Walsh Ironman, and is a two-timenational cadet champ. Hunter, a sophomore, went 51--0 last winter and won the103-pound state title. He also won his weight class at the Ironman and at lastsummer's cadet freestyle nationals.

Reminiscent ofCael Sanderson and Joe Heskett. Logan, like Sanderson, attacks nonstop. Hunter,like Heskett, can turn unfavorable positions into advantages.

Coach's commentEagles coach Scott Bauer on Logan: "He comes straight at you. In the firsteight to 10 seconds he's got at least a takedown." On Hunter: "He likesto lull you to sleep and wait for you to make a mistake."

Next step Loganhas committed to Ohio State and wants to win a Big Ten title before competingin the Olympics. Hunter has the talent to do the same.

Jeremy Tyler
16 FORWARD
San Diego

AchievementsRivals.com's top player in the class of 2010, Jeremy averaged 18.0 points, 14.5rebounds and 7.7 blocks while leading San Diego High to its first section titlein 33 years.

Reminiscent ofAmaré Stoudemire. Jeremy (6'11", 245) is about the same size as his idol,and he's keen to match Stoudemire's intensity. "He's intimidating as muchas athletic," says Jeremy. "Everyone's scared of him."

Coach's comment"Tyler brings a dominant presence to the court," says Cavers coachKenny Roy. "He was more of a post player, but now he's getting outside andhitting the 15-foot jump shot and still attacking the glass."

Next step Jeremyhas been trailed by a film crew since last season for a possible documentaryabout his life. Though even college is still two years away, he's a worthysubject. "The best player to come out of San Diego is Bill Walton,"says Roy. "Here's a young man with the opportunity to shatter [thatnotion]."

Kristen Park
15 GOLFER
Buena Park, Calif.

AchievementsKristen is ranked second nationally by the American Junior Golf Association andwon last summer's U.S. Girls' Junior Amateur, becoming the event'sfourth-youngest champion. She just completed her freshman season on the SunnyHills High (Fullerton, Calif.) boys' golf team, helping the Lancers win thestate championship.

Reminiscent ofIrene Cho. The 2002 Sunny Hills graduate was national player of the year at USCin '06 and at week's end had made 32 starts in two years on the LPGA tour. Thetwo have similar body types—both are around 5'6"—and are outstandingathletes: Cho was a figure skater, and Kristen played tennis.

Coach's comment"Kristen is probably more advanced [than Cho] at this age," saysLancers coach Tim Devaney. "She's so competent with all her clubs. She'slike a slow-moving whip: She just somehow generates power, even if it doesn'tlook like she's doing it."

Next step Park,who played last month's U.S. Women's Open as an amateur (she shot 80--78), willcontinue playing all the major junior tournaments, and for now she has plans tocompete in college.

Cory Whitsett
16 GOLFER
Houston

Achievements Corywon last summer's U.S. Junior Amateur, an event previously taken by the likesof Johnny Miller, David Duval and Tiger Woods (three times). A junior atMemorial High who is ranked No. 2 by the American Junior Golf Association, thelefthander won the Texas 5A state title in May and the prestigious WesternJunior in June.

Reminiscent ofJustin Leonard. Cory's wise-beyond-his-years approach evokes a comparison tohis fellow Lone Star State native, who excels in the mental game. "I thinkI'm pretty tough," Cory says. "I've had to scrap out a lot of rounds,and that's what I pride myself on."

Coach's comment"All the physical skills are there, but the intangible aspects are whatCory has always excelled at," says his personal coach, Paul Marchand, thehead pro at Shadow Hawk Golf Club in Richmond, Texas. "The kid is so farbeyond his age in terms of development."

Next step Corystill has two more years of high school and junior golf ahead of him, then, hesays, he'll "definitely" play in college. "His real focus isworking up the ladder," says Marchand. "Given good health, hispotential is quite high."

SportsKid of theYear

If you knowsomeone from age 7 to 15 who excels in sports, does well in school and givesback to the community, go to SIKids.com/sportskid to nominate him or her bySept. 1. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED will announce the 10 finalists on Sept. 15, and thewinner will appear on the December 2008 cover of SI KIDS.

 

ELEVEN PHOTOSPhotographs by Al Tielemans PHOTOMICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTOK.C. ARMSTRONG PHOTOBOB MARTIN (TOMIC) PHOTOTHOMAS E. WITTE

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
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Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
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