Basketball Is Still Alive in Seattle
Probably the biggest irony about the demise of pro basketball here in Seattle is that the region is proving to be increasingly fruitful in terms producing NBA players.
As Ted Miller noted in his piece on Seattle for the "City High" series on ESPN.com, "[The Seattle metropolitan area] ranks 15th in population among U.S. cities, but its eight NBA players in 2007-08 ranked the city fifth."
Now, as kids head back to school after a summer full of hoops, a new milestone has been reached: the Seattle-Tacoma area is home to players rated no. 1 in the country in the high-school classes of both 2010 and 2011.
Just last week, Rivals.com moved Josh Smith, a 6-10/270 big man from Kentwood High School in Kent, WA, to the top of its Rivals150 rankings for the class of 2010.
Meanwhile, Tony Wroten of Garfield High School in Seattle, alma mater of Brandon Roy, is a 6-4 guard rated no. 1 by Scout.com for the class of 2011.
Prospect rankings are notoriously volatile this early in the game. A vignette in the movie Gunnin' for That #1 Spot illustrated how rankings are often changed for the sake of change, to maintain interest.
Indeed, there's not a lot of consensus regarding the class of 2010 right now - I've seen Smith bounced around from 1 to 5, with several different players at 1.
Wroten, however, is universally thought to be a sensational prospect - one of just two rising sophomores who participated in the Elite 24 game at Rucker Park last month.
All in all, it's yet another remarkable basketball achievement for a region not commonly thought of as a hoop hotbed.
Miller's ESPN story rightly focused on how the quality of coaching on the summer-league circuit was a key ingredient in the success and development of Seattle-area players. AAU coaches - who are so often in the game for themselves and to latch onto the coattails of a top recruit - are focused on the good of the kid up here in the NW. Daryll Hennings, Dan Finkley and Adam Sedlik were not names mentioned in Miller's story, but all deserved to be. They developed the Seattle Rotary Style program, whose summer-league team features both Smith and Wroten - not a team that I'd want to run into next summer!
So while pro basketball is officially dead now that Howard the Coward Schultz slinked off into the sunset by dropping his suit on Friday afternoon PT before Labor Day - i.e. about the quietest time possible - Seattle hoop junkies can try to take solace in the fact that we can still watch the future of the NBA on local hardwood, even if we can't watch the present.