Korleone

Man, I remember the early days of Korleone Young well. First, there was that unforgettable name. Then, the fact an allegedly world-class high school baller was coming up in Wichita about the same time as JaRon Rush in KC. KU fans dreamed of those guys playing together, along with Quentin Richardson. Alas, while Rush and Richardson were once committed to KU, none of the three ever enrolled in Lawrence.

Richardson’s had a long and solid, if unremarkable, NBA career. Rush, infamously, washed out at UCLA and never lived up to his hype. It was cathartic and kind of sweet when he showed up at KU games with the mother of his son, a KU alum, when little brother Brandon was playing for the Jayhawks. I loved the happy grin and wave he gave the camera when they showed him on the video board before a game early in Brandon’s career.

And then there was Korleone. He got the full Grantland treatment last week. How crazy is it that his NBA career literally lasted 15 minutes? There are thousands of stories like his, of athletes who seemed to have the world in the palms of their hands and limitless futures but found a way to throw it all away. His story strikes a little closer to home because I first heard of him when he was 14 or 15, and because he grew up in Kansas.

”That’s a sad one there,” said Gentry, now a Clippers assistant. “He was one of those guys — he was the poster boy for what they do now, making them go to college for one year… Korleone was one of those kids that if he would’ve gone to college, even for a year, he could’ve had a doggone decent pro career. But he was so deficient in so many areas that he just wasn’t ready. He wasn’t ready for this league.”

The Forgotten Phenom