The New York Times has an article on the rise of middle school boys basketball recruiting by high school basketball coaches in the Washington DC/Baltimore area.
From the article:
The high caliber of high school basketball in this region and the resulting pressure placed on coaches to win have fostered a fierce recruiting environment focused on players who are much too young to drive anywhere but to the basket.
Although private schools recruit middle school students in other major metropolitan areas, both openly and discreetly, the minimal regulation of the practice here and the desire to uncover the next Kevin Durant — a product of a Washington-area private school who has blossomed into an N.B.A. star with Oklahoma City — has led to an aggressive pursuit of players beginning with fifth graders.
All of this, though, is a gamble, done even though coaches realize that, because of teenagers’ natural growth process, players who are stars in sixth grade may never make it past the junior varsity in high school.
Aggressive pursuit of players beginning with fifth graders?
Players who are "stars" in the sixth grade?
Sound crazy? Not to US Soccer, which has a Development Academy for players as young as six. Which means it is scouting players who still might be in kindergarten.
From a recent article in Grantland:
In February, U.S. Soccer announced that it was extending the season for the roughly 3,000 boys playing on teams in its Development Academy from seven to 10 months. The federation divides the academy into three age groups, which they call zones: Zone 1 is ages 6 to 12, Zone 2 covers ages 13 to 18, and Zone 3 is for players over 18. For the teenagers in Zone 2, the Fed’s decision meant those boys could no longer play for their high school teams.