While this article was written all of the way back in February, I thought I would share it for those who have yet to been able to read it.
The article comes from the Garfield Messenger, the student run newspaper at Garfield High School. May I applaud them, because not only this story on Tony Wroten, but the newspaper itself seems as if it is pretty incredible for being student run and at the high school level.
I have an opinion on Wroten that I am debating putting up on the blog based purely on a basketball standpoint, but this article goes much deeper past the basketball and into his personality.
Here are some highlights from the article accompanied with some reaction comments…
“If he does what he’s supposed to do,” says Tony’s Boys and Girls Club coach Darryl Hennings, who has seen Roy, Jamaal Crawford, and number three-ranked senior Peyton Siva go through his program, “he’s gonna be one of those top NBA players. He could be number one overall, easily. I mean—Lebron James, and this is hard for me to say, because I’ve seen Lebron James in the sixth and seventh grade—and Tony’s better than he was in sixth and seventh grade. When Lebron was in the ninth grade, you know, he was about 6’5”, like Tony, he had somewhat of a similar game to Tony, but he wasn’t as strong as Tony. And he wasn’t quite as explosive as Tony.”
Quite a serious comparison being made, especially saying that Wroten was better than LeBron James during the sixth and seventh grade. While I find it ridiculous to ever rank players who are that young or comparing them to current professionals at one stage in their development process, it speaks volumes as to what regard Wroten is held to in the basketball community.
It’s fifth period, and Tony Wroten is fidgeting. He has several ways of doing this, and all are very distracting. While I’m talking to him, he’ll hold on to the leg of the table and rub his hand along it vigorously and rhythmically, producing a squeaky kind of noise and causing my recorder to skitter across the tabletop; or he’ll flip his hat on and off his head a million times, never satisfied with how it perches. My personal favorite is when, as he listens to me talk, he hunches his long, broad-shouldered body down to the desk to gnaw on the mouth of his VitaminWater bottle like a puppy. He watches me anxiously as he does this, and I do my best to disguise my laugh as a strangled cough.
Throughout the article you will read about Wroten’s peculiar personality, including his dislike for eating in restaurants. It appears that Wroten has cut himself off from many people knowing that his life has been set out in front of him, and that is on the basketball court. You have go to wonder how having a personality like his on a team like the Huskies would be like, especially considering the fact the team last year was very close with one another. I am a big proponent of team chemistry and how it translates with a basketball team, so this is one aspect of Wroten that I would be worried about should he becoming a Husky.
“He’s coming from a very stable environment,” says Clark Francis. Tony’s family is pretty cozy with athletic stardom—Tony Wroten Sr., a.k.a. Big Tony, played tight end for the Huskies in the early 1980s. Tony’s mom Shirley, a Garfield alumna, was a track star through high school and college. Her older sister Joyce Walker became one of the first female Harlem Globetrotters, and is said to be one of the best female players ever to come out of Washington State. And, no big deal, Tony’s cousin is Nate Robinson.”
This is more of a question I have raised throughout Wroten’s recruiting process, and something I have answered by myself from the assumptions I have gathered from his personality. With all of the Husky ties in his family with his parents both attending Washington as student-athletes and his cousin in Nate Robinson being one of the more recognizable Husky basketball players of all time. Because of his personality, I would say there is no way that those ties are having an impact on his decision process. I see Wroten as a kid who just wants to make it to the league because he has always known he has the skill set to make it there, he would rather go to a place where he can just play basketball for a season and gaining the national fame from being a star freshman.
After his knees, the next thing on the agenda is protecting Tony’s right to be fifteen. Mrs. Wroten has that special brand of mother’s intuition that tells you who’s real and who’s trying to benefit from your son’s basketball talent. “We’ve had people come and try to train him”—insert air quotes—“‘for free.’” And Oak Hill Academy—Virginia’s big factory basketball high school, which has turned out tons of Division I and NBA players, including Carmelo Anthony—has extended a welcoming and very persistent hand, but Mrs. Wroten isn’t having it. “Oak Hill may need Tony, but Tony does not need Oak Hill. And the only time Tony’s leaving me is to go to college.”
It is nice to see that the Wroten’s were willing to turn away programs such as Oak Hill, especially during the ineligibility fiasco that was a problem for Wroten at the beginning of the year. For the state of Washington, it is a bonus to keep arguably the top payer in the high school system. Personally I love it whenever someone from the state begins receiving attention for basketball because of how the state has become a “basketball powerhouse” of some sort. Especially after the NBA deserting Seattle, it is nice to know that the state produces some of the best basketball players in the world consistently. Having players like Avery Bradley leave for a program such as Findlay Prep or Oak Hill takes away from that identity a bit.
Tony has a lot to deal with nowadays, and it doesn’t look like he’ll get a break anytime soon. He’ll get taller, stronger, better; he might even start shaving. He’ll have to suss out who’s who in the oncoming blitzkrieg of people: new girls, new coach, new team. He’s a sophomore now, so all the colleges that have been beating around the bush since middle school can now openly and relentlessly recruit him. There are people who want him, and there are people who want him gone. He’s a target, and all he can do is handle himself with grace and integrity.
Just one of the concluding paragraphs of a great story. Once again, I strongly encourage reading it.