At 14 years old, 2022 Akron Buchtel’s Chris Livingston hasn’t played a high school basketball game yet, has about two years until he can even get his driver’s license, and has to wait almost five years until he can graduate high school. But one thing he does have is an offer from head coach Chris Holtmann and the Ohio State Buckeyes.
— Corey Evans (@coreyevans_10) August 19, 2018
Offering a kid that hasn’t even started high school yet seems a bit strange,1 but considering the hype Livingston is already garnering, it may have been a smart decision for Holtmann and his staff to do just that. The 14-year-old hoops prodigy not only has plenty of skill, but he’s already 6-foot-6, 165 pounds. Although it’s still really early, he’s ranked as the No. 22 overall prospect for 2022, according to Future150.com.
In case you were wondering how good this kid already is, Holtmann isn’t the only big name to attend one of his games. LeBron James has also gone to watch Livingston play, according to Yahoo! Sports Pete Thamel.
Five miles from Las Vegas’ gleaming neon decadence, past the strip malls and noodle shops on the fringes of town, LeBron James entered a remote high school gym on Saturday and sparked an immediate buzz. Flanked by security, his longtime business partner Maverick Carter and a few friends, James settled into a section of bleachers roped off for college coaches.
James’ appearance at an obscure 16-Under grassroots game in the Fab 48 Tournament in a half-empty gym held a powerful symbolic meaning. James came to watch the next great player with Akron ties, 14-year-old Chris Livingston, who is considered perhaps the top eighth-grade player in the country.
James knows how it is to be a dominant basketball player in the city of Akron. He not only wanted to see this young phenom play in person, but he wanted to support a kid from his hometown. That alone shows just how special Livingston already is. It’s unfair to say that he could possibly be the next LeBron, but he has the potential to be the next transcendent basketball player out of Akron, let alone Ohio.
Holtmann knows what he’s doing in terms of recruiting. In just one month on the job, he (somehow) had the best recruiting class in the Big Ten in 2017, was able to get the 27th-best class in the country this past summer, and looking ahead to 2019, the Buckeyes already have commits from DJ Carton and Alonzo Gaffney, two of the best at their respective positions in the class.
There are a bunch of things that factor into where a prospect will play college basketball. Whether it’s how close it is to home, how good the team and coaching staff is, or even their competition throughout the season, among other things, it’s not just about the school itself. Some recruits even talk about how important it is that a school started recruiting them early, even being the first school that attended one of their games or offered them a scholarship.
That’s part of the reason why, although it’s strange to offer a kid that hasn’t even played a high school game yet, it may be a decision that Holtmann is proud of in the end, especially if Livingston turns into something special and commits to Ohio State.
One problem for all potential colleges who try and recruit Livingston and his other classmates: The NBA hoping to allow high schoolers to skip college and enter the NBA Draft straight out of high school beginning as early as 2020, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The one-and-done rule, which forced players to not enter the draft until one year after they graduated, went into affect following the 2005 NBA Draft. If this rule goes back to the way it was prior to 2005, prospects such as Livingston and others could decide to skip college and go straight to the NBA.
Here’s Livingston playing at Ohio State’s camp this past June: