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ESPN EXAMINES NIKE'S PRESENCE IN HIGH SCHOOL HOOPS
Published February 22, 1995
In last night's ESPN "Cover Story," Armen Keteyian reported on the hot, young "futures market" of high school basketball players and the "people who drive this bull market." The biggest "trading floors" for high school players are All-Star Camps where sports agents, college coaches, scouts and even shoe companies "all compete with (high school) coaches for influence and control over the can't miss kids." Barry Temkin, CHICAGO TRIBUNE's high school basketball writer: "Everybody is trying to latch on to the next hot star early, and become his friend. It will enrich them in a number of ways later." NIKE INVOLVEMENT? Kevin Garnett, the No. 1 rated big man in the country, left school in SC to play his senior year at Farragut High School in Chicago. According to Temkin, the interstate transfer is "a whole different phenomenon, kids coming from so far away, and that is where the connection comes in to Nike events." Nike held its annual High School All-Star event just outside of Chicago, where they flew in Garnett and more than 100 other stars, in an all-expenses paid trip complete with free Nike shoes, shirts, and other apparel. It was at the camp where Garnett met other Farragut players and coaches. Garnett's mother, Shirley Irby, admitted to flying to Chicago to scout high schools at Nike's expense. Irby: "It doesn't bother me at all." Garnett was not "the only 'can't miss kid' that failed to come home from the Nike festival this summer." The top rated small forward in the nation, Ron Mercer, along with "two other stars," switched to play for their Nike Camp coach. Frank Dubois, Athletic Dir of Nike Camps: "It bothered me that they did make the move ... and they moved to a program who was involved in the Nike program." At Nike's HQ in Portland, OR, Keteyian posed the question of Nike's "move into the sports agent business," and the "need to find and sign, the next pop icon." Nike Sports Management President Terdema Ussery: "I don't think it can necessarily translate that a kid who is going to be wearing Nike shoes in high school and college is going to be a Nike Sports Management client." Keteyian called those "hollow words to high school educators and coaches who feel the future of their sport is out of their hands, and into an honer system with precious little honor and no national controls" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 2/21).