Lebron James, Jason Kidd and former Washington Wizard Kwame Brown all were noticed by college and NBA basketball scouts before they had their drivers permits and were household names among basketball fans before they graduated high school. In Bethesda, Md., an 11-year-old player named Zion Harmon is the No. 1-ranked fourth-grade player in the country, and some predict he’ll be an NBA star.
The Ashburn Middle School student plays for Team Glory, one of the best groups of 11-year-old basketball players in the country.
At 4-foot-11 and 93 pounds, Zion scores between 30 and 40 points per game for his team, coached by his father Michael Harmon.
How exactly is a fourth-grader ranked nationally? Well, companies host tournaments throughout the country, and through those tournaments players are ranked, and NCAA coaches want to know who the best preteens in the country are.
Bill Francis, the regional director for of those companies, believes Zion is the biggest thing since Lebron James.
"We don’t want to label a kid this early as a phenom, but simply the way that he works, the way that he sees the floor, the way he thinks the game coupled with basketball ability, he’s one of the few kids that comes along every half or full decade that you can put a label on,” Francis said. “He’s going to, at the very least, have his four years of college paid for."
That’s exactly what Zion is shooting for-- playing college basketball like his older brother Zamichael, who currently plays at UC Santa Barbara.
And he doesn’t want to be another player that leaves and never returns to the D.C. area. He already wants to share this message:
“If you keep working hard at basketball, it can get you to good places, so you should really just grind now and then you’ll shine later and you’ll feel good about yourself and you can come back and help the younger kids and you can say that’s how I felt,” he said.
In addition to his basketball ranking, Zion gets all As and Bs in school.