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Five Sports Figures in the Spring of Their Careers
Springtime is a season of birth and renewal. In the spirit of the approaching Easter season, I'd like to offer five sports figures who seem to be on the cusp of greatness.
Shaka Smart, basketball coach - The men's basketball coach at Virginia Commonwealth University, Smart already has the ultimate line on his resume: he has taken a team to the Final Four. Not only that, but he did it coaching a #11 seeded team that had to beat USC just to earn a spot in the main draw of 64. Smart, still just 34 years old, turned down advances by North Carolina State in 2011 and Illinois this year and seems set to stay at VCU. His future looks bright.
Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals - Harper is the über-talented baseball player for the Washington Nationals. Though the team just sent him to the minor leagues, no one thinks that is anything other than a move to protect the team's rights in this case. Harper's speed and power guarantee he will be with the big club very soon, and he appears ready to begin a fantastic career. Harper was on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a 17-year-old phenom and has been rocketing toward the major leagues ever since.
Rory McIlroy, professional golfer - McIlroy is only 22 years old. Having won the 2011 U.S. Open, he already has a major championship trophy on his mantle. He briefly ascended to the #1 ranking earlier this year but has since dropped back to #2. He won $1.9 million on the PGA Tour last year in spite of only playing 10 events. The sky seems the limit for McIlroy, and he is a favorite at next week's Masters.
Victoria Azarenka, professional tennis player - Azarenka took over the top spot in the WTA rankings in January after winning her first Grand Slam at the Australian Open. Until losing at the Sony Ericsson Open this week, she had been undefeated with four tournament wins in 2012. The 22-year-old from Belarus has 12 titles in her career. The upcoming French Open-Wimbledon season will allow her to tighten her hold on the top ranking.
Robert Griffin III, quarterback - The Redskins just traded a whole bunch of draft picks to St. Louis to move up to the 2nd drafting position in the upcoming NFL draft. Griffin, the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor, seems a likely fit for offensive guru Mike Shanahan in Washington. Griffin dazzled in college and wowed at the NFL combine with his athleticism, leadership and maturity. If he can adapt to the NFL as quickly as Cam Newton did last year, stardom is sure to come quickly for Griffin.
Brad Boeker is an avid fan of a wide variety of sports. He coaches high school tennis in central Illinois.
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