Two prominent high school basketballers navigate college decisions amid a throng of unscrupulous coaches, agents, shoe-company representatives and other hangers-on vying for their attention.
The third-person narrator switches—sometimes unexpectedly—between two boys’ points of view: Terrell Jamerson, one of the most aggressively recruited high school seniors in the country, and his friend and teammate Danny Wilcox. At a summer camp ironically called “School Comes First,” the boys get their first taste of what will become a yearlong ordeal. Despite NCAA rules about what kinds of incentives high school and college basketball players can accept, sleazy men in suits keep showing up to court Terrell and anyone they think can influence him. There is a large cast of characters to keep track of, and the story unfolds over most of a year, but sophisticated readers will be rewarded. The on-court scenes excellently pair discussions of plays and strategy with nail-biting, second-by-second action. The off-court intrigue is similarly tense. Danny’s quick temper, Terrell’s occasional naïveté and their coach’s firm levelheadedness clash dramatically with the slick maneuvers of exploitative adults. The factors surrounding Terrell’s choices are presented thoughtfully and without didacticism.
Thorough and suspenseful; a must-read for those interested in basketball and the dealings surrounding the sport. (Fiction. 14 & up)