With just a month separating their ages, Flynn and Walcott round off this list of similar players, here’s hoping you’ve enjoyed it so far. Both Flynn and Walcott, who are both media-savvy and expert playmakers, excelled at the start of their burgeoning careers, despite being so young. Anyone who subscribes to Flynn's twitter feeds, or has read his articles in SLAM magazine knows he is far from shy. Walcott, similarly, shows intelligence and analysis in all his interviews, and is able to elaborate beyond the usual "it was a game of two halves" driveled nonsense.
In Walcott’s one and only season of amateur football, he scored more than 100 goals before being snapped up by Swindon Town. He was then signed by Southampton, and this is where he first made a name for himself. In 2005, at the tender age of sixteen he started for the Southampton first team, the youngest player ever to do so. His pace set him apart, last year he was recorded at being able to run 100 meters in 9.9 seconds, and he used to devastating effect, scoring four goals in 21 games. This convinced Arsenal to make him the most expensive teenager in the world, for a maximum fee of nearly $15 million.
Flynn’s story is equally impressive. In high school he averaged 26.7 points, 6 assists and 3.5 steals. At Syracuse College, he averaged 15.7 points and 5.3 assists in his freshman year, and was voted the 2009 Big East Tournament’s MVP. He made himself available for the 2009 NBA Draft, and was taken sixth by the Minnesota Timberwolves, behind Ricky Rubio who was also picked by the Timberwolves, but ahead of Stephen Curry.
Since then, both players have suffered from the same problems. The Timberwolves run the triangle offense, this doesn’t suit Flynn. Arsenal play Walcott on the wing, and not through the center where he is strongest. And despite being popular at their respective clubs, both players are injured right now and won’t be able to feature for quite some time. Walcott’s injuries have been a major factor in the failure of his Arsenal and England career launching.
But the one thing uniting both these players is the competition they have. In the year of the point guard in which Flynn was drafted, he wasn’t taken first. That honour goes to Ricky Rubio, the Timberwolves Spanish starlet who fans are hoping will one day take to the court of the Target Center. In the back of his mind, he must know that when Rubio does arrive, his minutes will severely decrease. Even while he is injured, the Wolves have brought in Luke Ridnour, a man deemed to be more effective at running the triangle offence.
Despite their being more spots on the team for Walcott to play in, the Arsenal team has a lot of strength in depth. Although Walcott did have an explosive start to this season before his injury, getting four goals in three games, Arsenal have continued to win without him. And while he might have been accustomed to being the young, English starlet from Arsenal, he might have lost that title when he returns. Jack Wilshere, 18, is having a break out season and is showing maturity beyond his years.
In order to keep their places, both players, as talented as they are, will need to raise their games.