The world famous Harlem Globetrotters today selected history's tallest college basketball player, 7-foot-8 Paul Sturgess of Mountain State (W.Va.) University, as well as international soccer superstar and ball-handling wizard Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona, as part of the team's 2011 draft class.
The two were among a total of six players selected, including 2011 College Slam Dunk Champion Jacob Tucker of Illinois College and 2011 College 3-Point Champion Andrew Goudelock of the College of Charleston (S.C.). The Globetrotters also selected 2011 College Slam Dunk semifinalist Darnell Wilks of the University of Cincinnati. Finally, with a special "future discovery clause," they picked 12 year-old ball handling sensation Jordan McCabe of Issaquah, Wash.
"The first day of practice, we are going to have Jacob Tucker and Paul Sturgess go one-on-one," said Sweet Lou Dunbar, the Globetrotters' director of player personnel. "A 5-foot-11 dunking machine against a 7-foot-8 tower of shot blocking has YouTube written all over it.
"I love all of the players we drafted this year, even the one we have to wait 10 years for to get in a Globetrotter uniform."
Following is a full recap of the Globetrotters' draftees:
• Andrew Goudelock of the College of Charleston (S.C.) won the 2011 College 3-point Championship, averaging on incredible 20 points (out of 30) per his three rounds. Goudelock (GOWD-lock), a projected NBA draft pick, was named the 2011 Southern Conference Male Athlete of the Year and earned AP All-American honors. His 23.7 points per game as a senior ranked fourth nationally in Division I. In all-time Division I play, the native of Stone Mountain, Ga., is in the top 40 on the career scoring list (2,571) and number 11 in career 3-pointers (396), hitting nearly 42 percent. His range would translate well to the 4-point shot, the 35-foot shot the Globetrotters introduced to the game in the winter of 2010.
• Jordan McCabe, a 12 year-old ball handling phenom from the Seattle area, showcased his incredible talents for none other than Harlem Globetrotters Legend Curly Neal during a recent visit to Beaver Lake Middle School in Issaquah, Wash., where McCabe just finished the sixth grade. The Globetrotters are exercising a "Future Discovery Clause" to obtain the rights to McCabe when he graduates from college. This special provision was acquired as part of an agreement with the rival Washington Generals in the 2007 deal that brought the Trotters current star Dizzy Grant.
• Continuing their trend of seeking to acquire the world's most superb athletes, the Globetrotters drafted Lionel Messi, the greatest ball handler in the soccer world, and star for FC Barcelona and Argentina's national team. Hailing from Rosario, Argentina, Messi was the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2009 and 2010, and he has won three Champions League titles and an Olympic gold medal in Beijing in 2008. Capturing the Globetrotters' ambassadorial spirit, Messi has also established his own foundation that supports access to education and health care for at risk children, and in 2010, he was named a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF.
• Paul Sturgess of Mountain State (W.Va.) University is the tallest college basketball player in history at 7-foot-8. Sturgess, from Loughborough, England, helped the Cougars to a runner-up finish in the 2011 NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament.
• Jacob Tucker won the 2011 College Slam Dunk Championship, a culmination of a YouTube video campaign to take part in the competition that has gained worldwide fanfare with well over four million hits. At just 5-11, Tucker sports an incredible 50-inch vertical leap, which helped him mesmerize the crowd with two perfect scores of 50 among his amazing dunks. The Carlyle, Ill., native led Illinois College in rebounding and steals as a senior, and was the team's second leading scorer.
• Darnell Wilks of the University of Cincinnati was narrowly edged out in the semifinals of the 2011 dunk contest, posting a near-perfect semifinal round score of 49 that was bested only by two perfect scores of 50. The gravity-defying Wilks, hailing from Nashville, Tenn., helped the Bearcats to the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's tournament, where they were upended by eventual champion Connecticut.
Notable players selected in past Globetrotter drafts include current Globetrotters Anthony "Ant" Atkinson, the first ever Globetrotters' draft selection and a college All-American; former Siena sharp-shooter Tay "Firefly" Fisher; and Michigan Wolverine dunking sensation Brent "Thunder" Petway–as well as Anthony Johnson and Shaunte Nance-Johnson, selected in 2010 as the first husband-wife duo ever drafted by a professional sports team; 2007 World Indoor High Jump Champion and 2008 Bahamian Olympian Donald Thomas; and Tim Howard, the top goalkeeper of the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team.
Sponsored by Campbell Soup Company, Howard Johnson Hotels, America's Best Contacts and Eyeglasses, Greyhound Lines, Spalding, and Russell Athletic, the Original Harlem Globetrotters continue a world famous tradition of ball handling wizardry, basketball artistry and one-of-a-kind family entertainment that continues to thrill fans of all ages. Throughout their history, the Globetrotters have showcased their iconic talents in 120 countries and territories on six continents, often breaking down cultural and societal barriers while providing fans with their first-ever basketball experience. Proud inductees of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Globetrotters have entertained hundreds of millions of fans—among them popes, kings, queens, and presidents—over more than eight thrilling decades.
Courtesy: Harlem Globetrotters