Watch out NBA, a 7-foot-1 Arkansas eighth grader is coming for you


(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Meet Connor Vanover. If this 7-foot-1 middle school student from Little Rock was 10 years older, there’s a good chance you’d already know his name. That’s because he’s pretty awesome at basketball and if he keeps improving (and growing!), there’s a good chance he could go pro.

Besides his obvious skills of snagging rebounds and blocking shots — two things that are easy to master you stand, literally, heads and shoulders above your opponents — Vanover is developing one of the most crucial skills for professional players. He’s got soft hands.

CityLeagueHoopsTV, who shot video of the eighth grader at play, calls Vanover a “silky jumper,” who “has range out to the three point line.” We’d tell college programs to take note, but they probably already have. And at least one sports writer, Mike Cardillo of TheBigLead.com, is already predicting Vanover will be a first-round NBA draft pick in 2021:

“Vanover’s upside is off the charts and definitely a potential first round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. Definitely.”

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.
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