Chris Lewis had a big day on Monday. In the span of just a few hours, Lewis received college basketball scholarship offers to New Mexico and Memphis, both perennial NCAA tournament programs.
For most teenagers that might not be too shocking. For Lewis it is, for one reason: He hasn't even stepped foot on a high school campus yet.
As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, among other sources, Lewis -- who is a 14-year-old student at Northwestern Middle School in suburban Atlanta -- earned the offers after a standout weekend of performances for the Georgia Stars 15-and-under AAU program, the latest in a long line of stirring, highlight-reel games for the budding talent. Lewis, who plans to play at area powerhouse Milton (Ga.) Academy, will likely get more scholarship offers down the road, but the fact that he received two offers before he even reached high school speaks volumes.
Wondering what kind of game Lewis possesses? Here's how Basketball Spotlight News, which covers many of the nation's top middle school prospects, described Lewis' performance at the Converse Elite event in May 2011:
Standing 6'6 Lewis is still in project form offensively but the big body clogged the lane and rejected or altered several shots. In the post his main concern should be improving his footwork and elevation at this point.
That review may be promising, but it isn't exactly overwhelming, which speaks to the ever escalating recruiting wars for young prospects. Think about it: Lewis hasn't played a single, meaningful minute of high school competition, yet he already has scholarship offers to two major Division I programs. Why is it happening, and how can these colleges justify extending scholarship offers so early?
"They love the fact that he's 6-7 at 14 years old, and has been playing at a high level on the AAU circuit for the last three years," Milton coach David Boyd, who will likely serve as Lewis' high school coach, told the Journal-Constitution. "He has an outstanding athletic pedigree with his father's football accomplishments.
"I have been waiting for that first offer to arrive … and it finally came today. I knew it was coming because Chris is that good, has that much upside and that much potential."
The father to which Boyd alludes is former Georgia football star and 13-year New York Jet Mo Lewis, a pedigree which gives Lewis an extra layer of allure. Still, for Lewis to have sold serious college coaches on his future so young is rather remarkable, particularly since he won't sign a college scholarship for another four years … at the earliest.
Will Lewis reach the heights that have been projected for him? That remains to be seen, though he'll certainly get every opportunity to do so, as Boyd made clear to the Journal-Constitution.
"I think he has a great chance to start for us as a freshman, and that tells you a lot," Boyd said. "He would've played a lot for us this past season if the GHSA rules allowed an eighth-grader to play on our high school team. He's that good. In middle school, he was dunking all over the place with both his right and left hand. That's something special about Chris; he has an uncanny ability to use both of his hands very well."
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