Is High-Flying 7th Grader Scottie Lewis the Next Big Thing?

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For most middle schoolers, dunking is a pipe dream achieved solely through the use of video games. For Scottie Lewis, dunking comes naturally. Not only can he perform the feat with ease, he can also do so with flair.

Vince Carter once won the NBA dunk contest with a 360-degree slam. Lewis—at 13 years of age—can do it in the seventh grade.

Yes, you read that correctly. The seventh grade.

Lewis, a 6'3" wingman currently residing in New Jersey, is overflowing with potential. And fortunately, unlike many middle school standouts, he has the talent to back up his dunking prowess. His skill set mirrors that of Kevin Durant, and the parallel has been thrown around quite often.

In comparison to other ballers in the class of 2019, he was ranked fourth by Basketball Spotlight and second by Hoops Report.

And the scary part? Lewis has only been playing basketball for two years, meaning his room for growth is constantly expanding.  

In New Jersey, he will join Team Rio National—one of the nation's top AAU teams, currently sponsored by Mario Chalmers.

A member of the exclusive National Youth Basketball League—a league created last year that features 24 of the country's most elite squads in that age bracket—Team Rio National proved that even without Lewis, they have the talent to be one of the top teams. From third to fifth grade, the team—then named the Central Jersey Hawks—finished eighth in the nation once and second in the state twice.

Recently, many members participated on AGame Team USA Select, where they won the AAU West Coast Nationals in Las Vegas.

With the budding young star on the roster, they'll be even more dangerous. According to coach Brian Klatsky, "With our roster of elite players from the Northeast and a lot of hours in the gym as a team practicing, we like our chances to play with the top three from last year: North Carolina Preps, All-Ohio Red, and Deron Williams Elite from Texas."

In addition to his strong foundation, Lewis will have an unparalleled opportunity to further maximize his talents. Not only will Team Rio National face off against the nation's toughest competitors, but they'll receive training that reflects the intensity of an NBA workout.

Micah Lancaster, founder of I'm Possible Training, is—according to Klatsky—the primary factor in the team's development. Having worked out NBA superstars including Kobe Bryant, Mario Chalmers, Evan Turner, Dwyane Wade and Kyrie Irving, Lancaster's tutelage ensures that Team Rio National is exposed to the best training available. 

Lewis, who according to Klatsky "never takes a play or drill off in training or in practice," will certainly benefit from such high-level training as he looks to expand his multi-faceted game.

Per his coach, "He has [a] jump shot with form and release [that] mirrors Kevin Durant, can handle the ball better than anyone his size that we have seen in the age group nationally. [He] defends and rebounds the way LeBron did at this age bracket."  

And of course, he is athletically more advanced than just about anyone in his class. Though a few seventh graders can dunk, Lewis stands alone in his ability to perform a 360.

He is also more agile than most who are 6'3", ensuring that even if he doesn't continue to grow, he can excel with a guard's collection of talents. As Klatsky said, "If he never grows...he can play guard at the highest level. If he grows to 6'6" or 6'7" he can be a small forward/big guard like KD."

He stressed, however, that Lewis must continue to play with the mindset that success will only come with hard work.

But the athletic tools are there, and there is no doubt that his current abilities put him directly on the path to success. Klatsky's uncle, Fred Klatsky was the founder of the Central Jersey Hawks; he has been in the AAU business for 20 years and has fathered three Division I athletes. He has also helped to develop over a hundred others. According to his nephew, Fred has said that "Scottie is the best seventh grader he's ever seen."

Scottie not only has the current talent to one day be a top talent, but the potential and work ethic too.

There's no doubting that he'll need to continue his work before he becomes a sure thing, but at this stage in his career, Lewis is in the right place to succeed.

As Brian Klatsky put it, "It's NBA skills training with elite kids, academic and family focus, and a kid that could be the next KD. Pretty cool stuff."

And he can do a 360 dunk in the seventh grade.

Yeah, pretty cool stuff.

 

Garrett Jochnau is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

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