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  • 16Nov

    Basketball Prodige At Age 9

    From CNN

    Darryl Dawkins, like many teen sports prodigies, wasn’t afraid to join the professional ranks as a youngster.

    He was emboldened by his size and imagination. A big man — 6-10 in 1975 when the Philadelphia 76ers drafted him out of high school — Dawkins wasn’t in awe of the stars of the era, he said.

    “I had watched the big men play, and I noticed big men go straight up and down the floor, beat on each other and were responsible for shutting down anybody that comes in the lane. I thought, ‘I can do that,’ ” he said.

    Confidence is one of the “big three” characteristics, along with composure and concentration, that young athletes need when competing at sports’ highest levels, said Angus Mugford, mental conditioner for IMG Academies in Bradenton, Florida.

    IMG, a multi-sport facility that provides camps and schools for athletes, boasts among its alumni tennis’ Venus and Serena Williams and baseball’s Ben Sheets and Nomar Garciaparra. Mugford has seen plenty of champions pass through IMG’s campus, but said there are “no perfect predictors” for what makes a phenom.

    Dakota Simms seems on track for greatness and is hoping the NBA changes its age requirement so he, like Dawkins, can go directly to the NBA from high school.

    Simms’ jump shot is masterful; a basketball fan might consider it art.

    He elevates through his legs, toes pointed downward and back straight, and strokes the ball toward the hoop, following through as if he were painting a wall with his fingertips.

    He practices the jumper and other elements of his game every day, staying at the gym until he makes at least 200 three-point shots with an NBA regulation ball.

    And Dakota is only 9.

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