You don’t see this every day.
Two major-college basketball programs offered basketball scholarships on Monday to a middle schooler who is only 14 years old, is an eighth grader, and has yet to play in a high school game.
The young phenom is Chris Lewis, a 6-foot-7, 190-pound forward who has a mighty athletic pedigree: His father is former UGA football star Mo Lewis, who was an NFL Pro Bowl linebacker and played 13 seasons for the New York Jets.
After watching the young Lewis dominate in an AAU tournament over the weekend, both New Mexico (coached by former Georgia Tech guard Craig Neal) and Memphis offered extra early scholarships on Monday. Lewis plays for the Georgia Stars under-15 AAU team.
“Craig Neal was first, and then the next thing I know I’m hearing from Josh Pastner at Memphis,” Milton High School coach David Boyd told the AJC.
“They love the fact that he’s 6-7 at 14 years old, and has been playing at a high level on the AAU circuit for the last three years. He has an outstanding athletic pedigree with his father’s football accomplishments.
“I have been waiting for that first offer to arrive … and it finally came today. I knew it was coming because Chris is that good, has that much upside and that much potential.”
Why on Earth would a college make a verbal offer to a middle schooler? More than likely, to gain an inside advantage later down the road. In Lewis’ case, much later – like the early signing period of 2016.
“You never know, we had two guys this year that ended up signing with the first school that offered them,” said Boyd, referring to senior swingman Evan Nolte (Virginia) and guard Shaq Johnson (Auburn).
Lewis is already a playground legend. He averaged more than 20 points per game at Northwestern Middle School, which is located right across the street from Milton, the Class AAAAA powerhouse that has won two state championships in the last three years.
This past summer, Lewis – before he even started classes in eighth grade – posted several double-doubles in points and rebounds in scrimmages against much older players from Milton’s eventual state championship team.
“I think he has a great chance to start for us as a freshman, and that tells you a lot,” Boyd said. “He would’ve played a lot for us this past season if the GHSA rules allowed an eighth-grader to play on our high school team. He’s that good. In middle school, he was dunking all over the place with both his right and left hand. That’s something special about Chris; he has an uncanny ability to use both of his hands very well.”
Boyd, who has coached for 28 years, said Lewis will be his first player that got a D1 offer as an eighth grader.
Who will offer next? Boyd is guessing it could be UGA or Georgia Tech because of his father’s connections and both being local schools.
Note: Prospective student-athletes can’t get written scholarship offers until before their senior season of high school. But they can get verbal offers at any time.
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