The Precipice:That's where these seven teenagers are now. They stand at the verge ofgreatness, loaded with promise, and yet nothing about their professionalfutures--not titles, not riches, not fame--is promised to them. Obstacles canarise; distractions can crop up; injuries can impede progress. And the toughestpart? "Waiting to see what happens next year," says Michael Main, a17-year-old pitcher with a 99-mph fastball. "I don't want to fast forwardor slow down, but I'm starting to get a little anxious." ¬∂ So much canchange. A.J. Green wasn't even interested in football three years ago. "Nowit's my favorite sport," says the 16-year-old wideout. "The people andthe energy of the game. I love the whole picture." That passion will bevital if these teens are to succeed at the highest levels of sport. "I canimprove on everything," says 15-year-old hockey center John Tavares. Andhe'll have to. ¬∂ In setting an ETA for each of these players to reach thebiggest stage, SI is assuming a smooth and upward career arc, hopeful thatsomeday in these pages, long after their glory days have passed, we'll beasking, Where are they now?
16 • GUARD,Aston, Pa.
ACHIEVEMENTS Theconsensus top recruit in the class of '08, Evans averaged 25.4 points, 8.0rebounds, 5.3 assists and 3.8 steals while playing both guard positions as asophomore last season at American Christian School.
REMINISCENT OF?Tracy McGrady. Though Evans, at 6'5" and 206 pounds, is three inchesshorter than the Houston Rockets' swingman, he's similarly smooth. McGrady,says Evans, "can do it all. He reminds me of me."
COACH'S COMMENT"Tyreke makes the game look so easy, and he has the ability to rise to theoccasion," says Jim Peper. "He played a lot at the point last year, butI think his best position is at the two. He has incredible range and a veryquick first step, so he's most effective on the perimeter."
ETA In the NBA by2009. Though many experts believe Evans would be ready to turn pro out of highschool--if that were still allowed--he's likely to spend a year at NorthCarolina, UConn or Villanova.
16 • GOLFER,North Dartmouth, Mass.
ACHIEVEMENTS He'sranked No. 1 in the world junior ratings by Golfweek after a 2005 season inwhich he won three national tournaments, finished in the top five in nine ofhis 16 events and was named the American Junior Golf Association's boys' playerof the year. Uihlein (pronounced YOO-line) is the third youngest player to winthe honor.
REMINISCENT OF?Phil Mickelson. The 6'1" Uihlein has superb length off the tee andshotmaking ability.
COACH'S COMMENT"I've heard so many coaches say that he's the only kid since Mickelson whohas all the shots in his bag," says Tim Sheredy, a senior instructor atIMG's David Leadbetter Golf Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where Uihlein will be ajunior. "The way Peter can control a golf ball's distance and trajectory isextraordinary."
ETA On the PGATour by 2012. Uihlein's father, Wally, is the chairman and CEO of AcushnetCompany, which produces Titleist golf balls. "My parents have video footageof me with a club when I was in a walker," says Peter, who plans tograduate from college before turning pro.
16 • WIDERECEIVER, Summerville, S.C.
ACHIEVEMENTS EASports named him the nation's top sophomore player in 2005, when he caught 75passes for 1,422 yards and 16 touchdowns at Summerville High. A two-timeall-state selection, Green--whose initials stand for Adriel Jasmaer--was thefirst freshman ever to be interviewed by recruiting analyst Tom Lemming for hisPrep Football Report.
REMINISCENT OF?Randy Moss. The 6'4" 180-pounder has 4.5 speed in the 40. "He's myfavorite player," Green says of Moss, the Oakland Raiders' wideout."Everybody's always said I'm just like him."
COACH'S COMMENT"He's one of the best players I've ever seen," says John McKissick, whohas more wins (519) than any other high school coach in history. "When wehave to, we line him up at cornerback and put him on the other team's bestreceiver. He can do anything he wants to."
ETA In the NFL by2011. Expect Green to spend three seasons in college; he's leaning towardattending Georgia.
16 • HURDLER,Long Beach, Calif.
ACHIEVEMENTS Shewas USA Track & Field's Youth Athlete of the Year in 2005, when she setmeet records in the 400-meter hurdles at the USA Youth Outdoor Championships(57.87 seconds), the IAAF World Youth Championships (a personal-best 55.96),and the USATF's Junior Olympic Championships (58.26).
REMINISCENT OF?Gail Devers. Collins, who finished second in the 100 at the World YouthChampionships (11.44), has been likened to the two-time Olympic 100-meterchampion, who also won three world titles in the 100 hurdles.
COACH'S COMMENT"A few years ago she won the 800 meters at an invitational meet with a caston her arm," says Shelton Hall of the Quiet Fire Track Club in Gardena,Calif. "It bothered her arm movement so much, she tore it off so she couldcompete in the 200. She won that, too."
ETA In theOlympics by 2012. The 5'5" Collins, who will be a senior next fall atWilson High, is in the running for the 2007 world championship team, but herbest time in the 400 hurdles is nearly two seconds off the top U.S. time thisyear (54.00).
15 • CENTER,Oakville, Ont.
ACHIEVEMENTSDespite being a year younger than the minimum age to play in Canadian juniors,he was granted "exceptional player" status as a 14-year-old and takenfirst in the 2005 Ontario Hockey League draft. In 65 games for the OshawaGenerals last season the 6-foot, 183-pound Tavares scored 45 goals and wasnamed rookie of the year.
REMINISCENT OF?Gordie Howe. He has a confidence and command of the game similar to Mr.Hockey's.
COACH'S COMMENT"Anticipation is such an underrated skill, and his anticipation offensivelyand defensively is like nobody's I've ever seen," says Brad Selwood, whoplayed with Howe in the late 1970s. "He does things I don't think have everbeen done. Gordie was a wonderful man and an alltime great, but he could tellyou why he did what he did. This kid just does it instinctually. It'sscary."
ETA In the NHL by2009. Already hailed as hockey's next big thing, Tavares is almost a lock to bethe first choice in the draft that year.
16 • GUARD,Wilmington, Del.
ACHIEVEMENTS Thetop sophomore in the country last season, she was named first-team All-Americaby Parade and Slam magazines after averaging 28 points and 11 rebounds. DelleDonne (pronounced DEL-luh DON-nuh), who has started on varsity since she was aneighth-grader, led Ursuline Academy to its third straight state Class 1Achampionship.
REMINISCENT OF?Dirk Nowitzki. The 6'4", 192-pound Delle Donne is routinely compared withMercury guard Diana Taurasi, but her versatility--she's as effective in the lowpost as she is behind the three-point line--makes her more like the Mavericks'7-foot superstar.
COACH'S COMMENT"She always has been four to five years ahead of everybody else," sayspersonal trainer John Noonan, who has been working with Delle Donne since shewas in the second grade. "There's the physical part, because she's so tall;then you sit and talk to her, and she's so mature. She's been getting press forso long, I'm amazed at how she handles it."
ETA In the WNBAby 2012. She's being hotly recruited by Duke, Maryland, Tennessee andUConn.
17 • PITCHER,Deltona, Fla.
ACHIEVEMENTS Hewas rated the top 15-year-old in the U.S. by Baseball America in 2004 and thenation's top junior by the scouting service Perfect Game USA last month. AtDeLand High last season, the righthander was 3--1 with a 1.44 ERA, striking out62 and walking seven in 311/3 innings. An outfield prospect as well, Mainbatted .402, with 20 RBIs and 26 stolen bases.
REMINISCENT OF?Roy Oswalt. At 6'2" and 175 pounds, Main has an angular build similar tothat of the Houston Astros' righty--and the same willingness to challengehitters. "I don't pitch around anybody," says Main, whose fastball hasreached 99 mph. "If you can hit it, let's see it."
COACH'S COMMENT"We were going to make him start on jayvee, but in the first 10 minutes oftryouts [his freshman year] we knew he was something special," says RicSperling. "Besides his ability, his knowledge of the game is just betterthan other kids'."
ETA In the majorsby 2010. Main's first choice for college is Florida State, but he expects tosign a pro contract if he's a first-round draft pick next spring. "I wantto make it as quick as I can," he says.
For more photos of these promising young athletes, goto SI.com/next.
Photograph by Al Tielemans
Photograph by Greg Foster
Photograph by Greg Foster
Photograph by Peter Read Miller
Photograph by KC Armstrong
Photograph by Al Tielemans
Photograph by Bill Frakes