From the New York Times
[Allonzo] Trier has his own line of clothing emblazoned with his signature and personal motto: â€œWhen the lights come on, itâ€™s time to perform.â€ His basketball socks, which also come gratis, are marked with either his nickname, Zo, or his area code, 206. Heâ€™s expecting a shipment of Under Armour gear soon, thanks to Brandon Jennings, last yearâ€™s top high-school point guard and now a highly paid pro in Italy. He is flown around the country by A.A.U. teams that want him to play for them in tournaments â€” and by basketball promoters who use him to add luster to their events. A lawyer in Seattle arranged for Trierâ€™s private-school tuition and academic tutoring to be paid for by the charitable foundation of an N.B.A. player, and the lawyer also procured free dental care for Trier.
His mother has some thoughts on it as well.
Marcie Trier is a single mother who makes a modest salary as a social worker at a shelter for victims of domestic violence. The two-bedroom apartment she shares with her son is Section 8, federally subsidized housing. What accrues to Allonzo because of his basketball exploits leaves Marcie feeling dazzled, bewildered, seduced and wary. â€œTheyâ€™re doing nice things for my son, things that he needs and I canâ€™t afford,â€ she told me. â€œSo how can I say no?â€ But she knows the reason for the largesse. â€œIf his game falls off, they will kick him to the curb. Thatâ€™s what makes me nervous, and I donâ€™t want it to happen.â€
Allonzo is twelve. You heard me, he is in grade 6. The system though doesn’t seem to care
Basketball has a different DNA. Itâ€™s a city game, an intimate sport dense with colorful characters, some of whom invariably turn out to be nefarious. Going back to the 1940s, and as recently as the mid-1990s, college basketball has survived periodic point-shaving, or gambling, scandals orchestrated by insiders with connections to top players. Last year, an N.B.A. referee began serving a 15-month prison term for criminal charges related to gambling on games.
Nor do college coaches as a group distinguish themselves through their ethics. Technically, they are not allowed to talk with prospective high-school recruits until June of a playerâ€™s sophomore year. But in the last two years, coaches at major schools have offered scholarships to highly regarded eighth graders, which has put an even greater focus on players in Trierâ€™s age group. Tim Floyd, head coach at U.S.C., made two such offers in the last two years, and he hired the father of one recruit to be on his staff. (â€œCollege Basketball Coaches Are Now One Step Away From Recruiting Embryos,â€ the Web site FanIQ headlined an article after the Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie offered a scholarship to another eighth grader last spring.)