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Jaylin Fleming Might Be the World's Best 10-Year-Old Baller

Apr 1, 2010 – 2:00 PM
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Ryan Wilson

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Jaylin Fleming is a 10-year-old fifth grader at Beasley Academic Center in Chicago, and according to this Chicago Tribune report, he's regarded as the most talented basketball player his age. Not surprisingly, college recruiters have begun the courting process.

Jaylin seems humble and hard-working and his father doesn't appear to be the overbearing, living-my-life-vicariously-through-my-son type. So that's nice.

Still, anytime I hear about child phenoms, I can't help but think back to a 1986 Sports Illustrated piece that featured the country's best basketball players in grades 6 through 12.

12th grade: Marcus Liberty (Chicago)
11th: Alonzo Mourning (Chesapeake, Va.)
10th: Kenny Anderson (Queens, N.Y.)
Ninth: Damon Bailey (Heltonville, Ind.)
Eighth: Barnabas James (Los Angeles)
Seventh: Brian Crow (Orem, Utah)
Sixth: Michael Irvin (Chicago)

I found this list from a 2002 Grant Wahl mailbag, and here's what he wrote at the time: "Liberty through Bailey are names we know. Do any readers know what happened to the youngest three?" Not everybody destined for stardom makes it, and that's okay. You'd just like to think that James, Crow and Irvin had a backup plan. And the same holds for Fleming. (A quick Google search had this SI 1992 "update" on the youngest three players, six years after the original story ran.)

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