According to SLAM magazine, Colin Slater II is the best 13-year-old basketball player in the country. Slater has impressive handles, he has a consistent jumper and he's just as happy spreading the ball around as he is taking it to the hole. In short, the 5-foot-9 point guard is a coach's dream.
Of course, you almost have to take SLAM's word for it, because no one has been able to see the kid. Unlike most rising junior high prospects, Slater has played in just two national showcase events, the 2009 Adidas Jr. Phenom Camp in San Diego and the 2010 Central Cali Finest Showcase Event. At both camps, the diminuitive point guard shone, leaving camp with accolades usually reserved for polished high school veterans.
"I'll put it to you like this, he reminds me of D.J. at that age and D.J. was tearing it up at 13," Daryl Augustin, the father of Charlotte Bobcats star D.J. Augustin told SLAM. "Colin is very mature for his age and I'm confident in saying he will prosper in the game of basketball. I hate ranking kids that young but he's worth it."
That hardly describes Slater, who has been rigorously held away from the hype usually surrounding similar prized recruits. Unlike most of his peers, Slater II does not spend the summer traveling on the AAU circuit. He doesn't take phone calls from college coaches. Perhaps most significantly, you can't find any of his highlights on YouTube … or anywhere else.
In fact, the only known highlights of the eighth-grader whatsoever are in the Zapruder film caliber reel you see below, which was cobbled from cell phone videos taken of Slater II competing in a variety of events with his summer team.
The systematic avoidance of the national media flies in the face of most young prized recruits who actively seek out the attention. Interesting, the Slaters live in Fresno, Calif., which is also home to one of the most notable rising freshman "top recruits," Jerron Love, whose father, Jerry Love, runs the Middle School Elite youth basketball rankings hub. For his part, Love is now a freshman at Fresno (Calif.) Clovis West High, the crosstown rival of the Fresno (Calif.) Clovis North High, where Slater's father, the elder Colin Slater, is the basketball coach.
For now, the Slaters are comfortable staying out of the limelight, knowing that the son's time will come if he allows himself to keep to the hard work that got him to where he is, a work ethic forged on a year of walking to school every morning while dribbling a basketball left-handed.
"Camps that we go to now are local and regional camps that we have to pay for because there's no invitational camps at his age," Slate said. "When he's in high school, he'll get those prestigious invites and he'll be ready."
Based on the early analysis and limited footage, Slater might already be prepared for that attention, even if it's being kept at arm's length. That's a unique approach in the modern era, and given his father's professional approach to his development, it might just be more proof that the Slaters -- and SLAM -- are on the right track.