They were a pair of the best underclassmen in Seattle sports a year ago. Tony Wroten was one of the area’s top five basketball players last season at Garfield. Jake Heaps led the Skyline football team to a Class 3A title. Recently, both have been in the news.
Wroten was picked as one of the top 24 players in the country to play in last week’s Boost Mobile Elite 24 even in New York City. ESPN RISE, ESPN’s new high-school sports site, had this feature on Wroten before the event. And this notebook had this to say:
“…sophomore Tony Wroten Jr. of Garfield (Seattle, Wash.) served notice that a new corps of talent is waiting in the wings. While Wroten Jr. didn’t have a big statistical night, he showed heart and toughness that, combined with his prodigious talent, should ensure a bright future.
Despite being one of only two players in the game from the Class of 2011, Wroten Jr. didn’t back down when he found himself going one-on-one with three-year Elite 24 veteran and New York native Lance Stephenson. Rucker Park is like a second home to Stephenson, who’s been dominating at the famed playground for years. In his battle with Wroten Jr., Stephenson had the home crowd on his side and an advantage of about 20 pounds of muscle.
But Wroten Jr. wasn’t intimidated at all, getting right up in Stephenson’s face and guarding the two-time Elite 24 MVP as tough as anyone in the game did. And even if the crowd was backing Stephenson (with the exception of New York Knicks guard Nate Robinson, who’s Wroten Jr.’s cousin and was in attendance), the super soph earned a lot of praise from his fellow players for his willingness to go head-to-head with the local favorite.
“He showed he was confident and wanted to guard him,” Durand Scott, a senior at Rice (New York, N.Y.) said. “He wasn’t scared.”
“That’s all heart and mental toughness,” Strickland added. “He’s only 15 years old. That’s great for him.”
Sounds like he made quite an impression.
Also, you might have heard that there’s some uncertainty that Wroten, as a non-resident, will be able to attend Garfield this school year. I spent a good chunk of the morning at Seattle Schools HQ, where his family had a non-resident hearing today, but decisions on these kinds of hearings typically take days, and Seattle Schools does not make these decisions public.
As for Heaps, he now has 13 scholarship offers, believed to be the most in the state — and he’s still only a junior. He most recently got offers from Notre Dame — where he said Charlie Weis walked out of a practice to talk to him on the phone — and North Carolina. We’ll have more on Heaps next week in our football preview (the season’s only eight days away).