Chicago’s Amari Bailey is going to the eighth grade this fall. He hasn’t started high school yet, but he already knows where he is going to college.
Bailey, who plays for a Nike-affiliated MeanStreets AAU program, announced on Instagram this week that he will play college basketball at DePaul. He cannot sign until his senior year of high school.
Bailey’s mother told a local radio station that after her son visited DePaul, that it just felt right and she supported the decision. Her son is a 6-foot-3 guard who has sparked all kind of videos on YouTube, with each getting several thousands hits or more. He has also been featured on a Lifetime show, “Bringing Up Ballers,” which followed five Chicago parents whose kids were tracking as elite ballplayers.
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According to Lifetime, the show followed these “feisty moms who will stop at nothing to ensure that their businesses are successful and their boys are on track to make it to the NBA. These ladies are anything but benchwarmers as they balance their households and businesses, while managing their sons' daily practices and games. Together they are the ultimate Hoop Moms and are not afraid to call foul on each other as they fight to ensure their kids make it to the top.”
There is no doubt that Bailey can play. He’s generally considered one of the best players in the class of 2022 by services who rank such things. And DePaul also hired one of MeanStreets coaches to join its program, a national college basketball writer wrote.
Colleges are, more and more, beginning to recruit kids at earlier ages. Earlier this year, a 9-year-old California football player stirred national headlines after he was offered a scholarship to the University of Nevada.
And it’s not unusual in basketball anymore, either. In Illinois, Ryan Boatwright committed to Southern Cal as an eighth grader. He wound up playing at UConn.
In Charlotte, Chris Leak was offered a scholarship by Wake Forest as an 8th grade football player, one of the first pre-high schoolers to earn this sort of attention. Leak ultimately became a college football national champion at Florida.