He is 12, stands 5-foot-4 and weighs just 120 pounds. He looks like any other kid on a middle school bus. Still, don't let the sixth grader-next-door image fool you: Damon Harge is rapidly gaining a reputation as one of the best young high school point guards in the country.
Yes, high school. Despite his age, as highlighted by ESPN.com, Harge is competing at the high school level in North Carolina, and he's torching the opposition. A year after getting national attention for dominating any and all middle school comers -- he averaged 35 points as a fifth grader playing against student athletes three years older than himself -- Harge is now suiting up for Creedmor (N.C.) Christian Faith Center Academy, where he faces off against some of the top prep basketball programs in the county … as a sixth grader.
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"I looked him up and it's hard not to be impressed watching his videos," Christian Faith Center Academy coach Kendrick Williams told ESPN.com of his first exposure to Harge. "I wasn't sure about how that would translate on the varsity level, but I was excited to find out. I just kept thinking 'he's only 12?'"
What may be most incredible about Harge's rocket ride to stardom is how seamlessly it has all come together. A year ago, Harge was still somewhat of an under-the-radar prospect, happily plying his trade on the West Coast. A year later Harge sports YouTube clips with an aggregate audience of more than 3 million views and is widely recognized as the nation's top sixth grader.
Admittedly, that's a lot of hype for any pre-teen to handle. Still, those are the kind of things that happen when a player drops 50 points at a national invitational tournament in front of former number one NBA draft pick John Wall, who immediately emerged as Harge's biggest fan and ally.
"The kid was unguardable," Wall told ESPN.com. "I knew right away he was a star. I just wanted him to continue to work hard.
"All of this is too serious for a 12-year-old kid. He should be concentrating on having fun, but, at the same time, I understand why it's happening. What's he gonna say, 'No thanks, I don't want to be ranked right now?' Plus, I'd be shocked if there's a player that's more skilled than him at his age. It's not wrong and it's not his fault. Basketball isn't the only sport that ranks kids early. It's just the day and age we live in."
Harge is already leaving his impact across a large swath of the basketball portion of that world as it is. Williams, who once coached John Wall and is well acquainted with molding young phenoms, said that the sixth grader's work ethic is what makes him stand out. The 12-year-old wakes up at 4:30 every morning and puts up an average of 6,500 shots per week. "With that high volume of shots the muscle memory is ridiculous," Williams told ESPN.
Now, as Harge continues to refine his talent against tougher opposition -- he recently took part in the ScoutsFocus Elite 80 Showcase and averaged 11 points a game against some of the nation's top Division I recruits (you can see his highlights from that event directly above) -- he also continues to sway more and more doubters, including yet another recent top NBA draft pick.
"I was very, very impressed with Damon," new Cleveland Cavalier Kyrie Irving told ESPN.com. "He really reminds me of me back in the day, but he's just more skilled than I was back then. The talent and potential is undeniably there. He was crossing up varsity guys like they were the young guys. He's the real deal and he seems really focused."
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