The top players in any sport are always successful because of their confidence. Sometimes in dominant prep athletes, that confidence can even seem to have no bounds, as was the case with a crop of the nation's top high school basketball recruits, all of whom told ESPN that they were confident they could have contributed to Sunday's NBA All-Star Game … right now, as 17-year-olds.
All told, two top-5 ranked prep junior recruits and one high school senior hoopster insisted they could have made a difference at the 2012 game in Orlando, with one going so far that he made the audacious suggestion that he could score 30 points in the league's star-filled event.
Plano (Texas) Prestonwood Christian Academy guard Julius Randle, Tilton (N.H.) School center Nerlens Noel and Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy point guard Tyler Lewis all insisted that they could have made an impact in Orlando during the NBA's annual superstar fest. The trio, as well as a few other recruits, were interviewed about how they might fare in such a setting by ESPN's Jason Jordan.
Of the three stars who thought they were ready to ball with the pros, Randle was by far the most sure of his ability to play in all facets of the game.
"I just think that I could do my thing in that setting," Randle told ESPN. "I'm not saying I'd be the best player on the court, but I could contribute. I could definitely contribute."
Meanwhile, Noel cited the game's traditional lack of defense as a way for him to dominate inside, chalking himself up for as many as 30 points on the low blocks. Really … 30.
Only Lewis seemed to be a bit more realistic about how he would fit in at the game, citing his court vision and penchant for on-target alley-oops as a way for him to contribute in the game.
Still, the fact that any of the three were seriously considering playing in the All-Star Game as teenagers is a bit rich, to put it mildly. Of the straight-to-the-NBA era, before the current entrance rules which require a year of college basketball first, few (cough, LeBron James, cough) have made an All-Star caliber impression in their first season.
Of course, the over-confidence of Randle and Noel -- and many of their peers -- only reinforces why the NBA adopted the adjusted entrance rules they did as well. Clearly these players would be entering the draft if they could, and while the likes of Randle or Noel might actually make a difference in the long run, many of their peers who chased the dream when they did probably wouldn't, and would be left without any part of a college education as a result.
Still, given their most recent quotes, it seems unlikely that a college diploma is near the top of Randle's or Noel's future plans.