Top 16 under 25
In many sports, it's common that an athlete's prime starts to kick in around their mid 20's lasting up until their early 30's. Once a player hits their prime, they too, begin to tap into their greatness, and while not all players can be great, not all players can be recognized for their efforts. Often times, players on the rise are over shadowed by the players who are now classified as vets and players who a called upon to lay the groundwork for those after them. Because I can't give a nod to ALL the great players today, here's to the young ballers and standouts who are just beginning to tap into their prime and on a path to greatness in their respected sport.
Odell Beckham – Giants WR- 24
The guy who needs no introduction…but would somehow find a way to get ahold of a microphone and make his presence known, put up 1,367 receiving yards on 101 catches with an average of 13.5 yards per catch and found himself in the endzone 10 times. Career totals since coming into the league in 2014 look like a total of 288 receptions for 4,122 yards. Talented and temperamental, I’ll take it, as long as the team feels they can win alongside him.
Kwon Alexander – Buccaneers LB – 22
This far, the only mistake Alexander has made was being suspended the final four games of last season due to violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Other than that, the former fourth round pick has since played exceptionally well, leading the Bucs with 145 total tackles and not to mention, led the league with 108 solo tackles. Outside of his stellar tackling ability, his first 28 games in the NFL also consisted of six sacks, 16 defended passes and three interceptions. It is imperative to keep an eye out on No.58 this season.
Amari Cooper – Raiders WR – 23
With 83 catches, five touchdowns and a 13.9 yards per catch average to compliment his efforts, there’s no second guessing why he made the list. Although the third year pro still has a lot to prove, look for the Cooper and Carr connection to pick-up and extend on what they were unable to finish last season.
Marcus Peters – Chiefs CB – 24
Peters came in as a rookie in 2015 and quickly became a household name posting eight INT’s, two defensive touchdowns, a trip to the Pro Bowl and even earned himself the AP NFL Defensive rookie of the Year Award. He since has added six interceptions to his career total, putting him at 14. Not bad Kansas City, you all have yourselves an elite corner.
Ezekiel Elliot – Cowboys RB – 22
Mamma, there goes that man. The Cowboys couldn’t have made a better selection in the 2016 draft as they gained a true workhorse and fan favorite in Elliot. Behind one of the league’s best if not THE best offensive lines, Elliot racked up 1,631 yards on 322 attempts and 15 touchdowns. Not only are his numbers worth a double take, but he was also awarded the first rookie to lead the league in rushing since 1992, which I’m sure helped his case for also being handed Offensive Rookie of the Year. Let’s see what year two has in store.
Corey Seager – Dodgers SS – 23
One of the most exciting players in baseball, who has a batting average of .302, 18 HR’s, 53 RBI’s on 371 at bats. Seager who has played in 99 games thus far this season swung himself into his first All-Star game down in Miami this season and looks to continue his pursuit of the next level from the plate, as well as between the bases.
Mookie Betts – Red Sox OF – 24
A former infielder with all the right tools to be the team’s un-tradable guy who currently has a .270 BA with 69 RBI’s, 18 HR’s on 440 at bats. While his numbers may be in a slight standstill, we can’t forget what happened in 2016 when he stood alone with 30 homeruns and 20 stolen bases helping him become a first time All-Star and won his first Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards. While baseball’s slowly coming to a close, it’ll be interesting to see if Betts can power his way back to elite status and help the American Leagues second best team maintain it’s position.
Bryce Harper – Nationals OF – 24
With an NL MVP already under his belt and 148 career homeruns, there’s no doubt that Harper is one of the most lethal hitters in baseball and it’s hard to believe that guys not even 25 yet. He currently holds a .326 batting average with 27 homeruns and 80 RBI’s and not to mention, his Nationals are sitting in first place in the NL East. I wonder how free agency is going to treat him in 2018?
Auston Matthews – Maple Leafs C – 19
Matthews set the tone for rookies league wide placing the bar fairly high, leading all rookies in goals and total points. It was only right he was awarded the 2016 – 17 Rookie of the Year Award. To put it all in perspective, he concluded this past season tied for second overall in total goals falling four goals shy of Stanley Cup winner Sidney Crosby. Did I mention he’s only 19?
Connor McDavid – Oilers C – 20
As if becoming the youngest captain in the history of the NHL at age 19 wasn’t enough, in 2016, McDavid won the Art Ross Trophy for leading the league in points and won MVP for netting 30 goals along with 70 assists. Still not enough? In July, he inked an eight-year deal worth a whopping $100 million making him the highest paid player in today’s league.
Karl Anthony-Towns – Timberwolves C – 21
The centerpiece to the newly refined Timberwolves and 2015 Rookie of the Year Award winner has become a player separating himself from many who play the center position. KAT played in all 82 games last season putting up beefy numbers averaging 25 points per game while snagging 12.3 rebounds per game making him an automatic double-double threat. What makes him so unique, is that he is the only player since Shaq to average 23 points and 11 boards at the age of 21. If KAT can get some more defensive presence about himself, there’s no reason why he couldn’t be an all-around elite center.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – Bucks F – 22
The fourth times a charm, as he finally pieced together a jaw-dropping eye-popping statistically exciting season. The mythological specimen without a doubt lived up to his name, “Greek Freak,” posting an average of 23 points per game, nine rebounds, and five assists for the 2016-17 season, leading the Bucks in every single major statistical category. His four years were definitely worth the wait.
Kristaps Porzingis – Knicks PF – 22
The foundation and new face of basketball in the Big Apple, Porzingis has become everything the fans needed him to be. At 7-foot-3, Porzingis is making his paint presence felt all while shooting the deep ball at 35 percent. At age 22, he is averaging 18 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2 blocks, ranking him fifth in the NBA in blocks and second among power forwards. He also ranks within the top-10 for made three pointers among power forwards. With continued growth and maturity, Porzingis has all the tools to be a future Hall of Famer.
Let’s not forget about:
Simone Biles – Gymnast – 20
Just check her Rio Olympic résumé, as she won four Olympic gold medals and in 2017, was nominated and awarded Best Female Athlete at the ESPY’s, making her the second gymnast to obtain the award. Is it 2020 yet?
Jordan Spieth – Golfer - 24
Let’s see here, in the past month Mr. Spieth has won the Traveler’s Championship with a wild bunker shot that can’t be replicated, followed up by winning The Open with a ridiculous final six holes. If he can hold onto the juice and continue to play in rare form, he will be just one major away from a career grand slam.
Katie Ledecky – Swimmer – 20
Four gold medals and one silver in the 2016 Summer Olympics, becoming the first swimmer to win the 200, 400 and 800 m freestyle at the same Olympics in over 40 years, enough said.