Thriving under the spotlight
You know the drill. A viral video of some preternaturally gifted preteen phenom takes social media by storm, dazzling their peer group with fancy handles, no-look dimes and long-range bombs or taking down older opponents with ease. However, the age of social media can be both a boon and a curse to these prodigies, putting them under the spotlight before they even reach puberty.
As such, it is hardly surprising that these players do not always pan out. Whether it is due to a lack of physical growth, stagnation in their skill sets or a general loss of motivation, many former child prodigies disappear from the public eye after their fifteen minutes of fame. Despite this pressure-cooker environment though, some starlets have managed to thrive amidst the hype and ascend all the way to the pinnacle of professional hoops – the NBA.
Ricky Rubio: The Spaniard was one of the original child stars, becoming a sensation on YouTube due to his ball-handling moves and incredible court vision. Despite playing in Europe, he caught the eye of American scouts by dominating his age group in international play, notching MVP awards, quadruple doubles and 50-point games. After representing his national squad at the senior level at just 17 years of age, Rubio has spent the good part of this decade displaying his passing skills in the NBA.
Luka Doncic: The rookie phenom has taken the NBA by storm with his mature, unhurried approach to the game and his seemingly unguardable step-back threes. This success is hardly surprising to those who have been following him for a long time however, as he began competing way above his age group in his homeland of Slovenia before he even turned ten years old. Spanish giants Real Madrid quickly snapped him up and it did not take long before he became a star for his side, earning MVP awards in both the EuroLeague and the Spanish ACB. He has adjusted admirably to the NBA in his first season, as he puts in his case for Rookie of the Year honors.
Allonzo Trier: The 6-foot-5 guard went undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft, with his stardom having faded slightly while in college. A decade ago however, he was the talk of the town, playing varsity basketball while still in middle school, filming a commercial with Carmelo Anthony and earning an exclusive and lengthy feature in The New York Times. Now, Trier is back to his old ways, becoming a serious offensive force for the New York Knicks in his first NBA season as he seeks to justify the expectations put on him in his early years.