Two of nation's top high-school basketball stars plan to turn out for football Monday.
Joshua Smith of Kentwood and Tony Wroten Jr. of Garfield, two of the nation’s top high-school basketball recruits, plan to turn out for football Monday, their parents confirmed Wednesday.
Both had an understandable reason for missing today’s opening practices: They are in New York for the Elite 24 Classic, which will be played Saturday.
Smith, ranked as the No. 1 senior center in the country by ESPN.com at 6 feet 10, 280 pounds, participated in spring football drills at Kentwood and is expected to play on the offensive line, according to football coach Rex Norris. Norris called Smith “impressive.”
“He’s an optical illusion,” Norris said. “You don’t see 6-10 football players running around.”
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Smith last played organized football in eighth grade and was a tight end, according to his father, Ernest.
“It’s his senior year,” his father said. “I told him to go for it.”
Wroten, a 6-5, 200-pound junior, is rated among the top five high-school basketball players in his class and No. 2 at point guard by ESPN.com. He last played junior football when he was in about seventh grade, according to his mother, Shirley.
“He’s been wanting to play . He finally broke daddy down,” she said.
His father, Tony Wroten Sr., was a football and basketball standout at Hazen High School in Renton and went on to play football at Washington.
Garfield football coach Anthony Allen said he sees Tony Jr. playing at wide receiver and defensive back.
“This is like Christmas morning in August,” Allen said.
Both Smith and Wroten are getting the blessings of their high-school basketball coaches.
“I have no problem with it at all,” Garfield’s Ed Haskins said. “Tony’s always loved football, so why not?”
Because the WIAA mandates that football players participate in 12 practices before participating in a game, both Smith and Wroten will miss their school’s season openers (Sept. 3-4). But they should be eligible the following game.
• Garfield and Kentwood, expected to be two of the top Class 4A basketball teams in the state, are working out arrangements to play each other in a December game that would be televised on ESPN, their coaches confirmed. The site and date have not been confirmed.