Quite the rise for a player who was seen as a bit of a reach at 10th overall in the 2017 NFL draft and only a three-star recruit coming out of high school. There are many paths to stardom, and some are clearer than others.
Here’s who a group of athletes we think are on track to make this kind of list the next time around, in no particular order.
Trevor Lawrence (20 years old)
The man. The myth. The hair.
The top overall recruit in the Class of 2018 was marked for stardom from his first snap with Clemson, and he has lived up to every bit of the hype. Since Lawrence stepped onto the Clemson campus, the Tigers are 29-1 and a Joe Burrow (No. 22 on the list) from two straight national championships.
Watching Lawrence cook Alabama in the 2019 College Football Playoff championship game felt like an ascension, and he remains the strong favorite to go first overall in the 2021 NFL draft.
Maybe he’ll add a Heisman before getting there, but it’s clear that NFL teams should be either salivating or fearing the long-awaited moment Lawrence hits the pros.
Coco Gauff (16 years old)
When it comes to Gauff, we’re still getting past the point where we’re more likely to hear her age than her name when talking about her.
Exploding onto the scene at Wimbledon last year when she made the fourth round at 15 years old, Gauff only solidified the hype as the future of American tennis when she made the third round of the following U.S. Open before losing to World No. 1 Naomi Osaka (No. 11 on the list).
And then she beat Osaka at the next Australian Open. It was only fellow American Sofia Kenin, eventual champion and another consideration for this list, who could stop the now-16-year-old Gauff.
Now, it feels more a matter of “when” than “if” on Gauff winning her first Grand Slam. She still has plenty of time.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (21 years old)
Previously known mostly because he carries the name of his Hall of Fame father, the Toronto Blue Jays infielder has already more than carved out his own reputation.
Baseball America’s No. 1 prospect entering the 2019 season, Guerrero was considered the best pure bat to enter the majors in a long time and showed he’s well on track to filling that hype with an above-average OPS as a 20-year-old rookie. The list of players in MLB history who have done that is packed with stars.
Alongside Guerrero are Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio, also rookies in 2019 and sons of prominent MLB players.
Clearly, the future is bright in Toronto.
Emoni Bates (16 years old)
The most-hyped amateur player in the country won’t hear his name called at this year’s NBA draft. He won’t be at next year’s NBA draft.
Lying in wait for his chance at NBA stardom is 16-year-old Emoni Bates, a name you are very much going to hear over the next few years. Ranked by Rivals as the No. 1 high school player in the country regardless of class, the outlet calls Bates one of the five best players it has seen at his stage of development in its 20-year history.
And it’s not hard to see why.
The biggest question remaining about Bates is whether we’ll get to see the kid play in college before he inevitably hears his name called by Adam Silver.
Gio Reyna (17 years old)
You notice how Christian Pulisic made the 25 under 25 thanks to his status as the future of the USMNT after a career at Borussia Dortmund? Well, get ready for the sequel.
At only 17 years old, Reyna has already made his debut in the Bundesliga and on his way to fulfilling the legacy of his father, former USMNT captain Claudio Reyna. He’s got some pretty good young teammates too at Dortmund with 19-year-old Erling Haaland and 20-year-old Jadon Sancho.
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