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BARKLEY'S UNDERBELLY

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Some claim the SATs are culturally biased. I find that hard to believe. A student earns 400 of the necessary 700 points merely by signing his name correctly. The only realistic way an applicant can fail is if he doesn't know how to read and write.

The subpar SAT grades of high school basketball players all over the country should be an ongoing humiliation to educators. The evidence of the tests demonstrates that students are moved ahead to the next grade no matter how poorly they do in class. This is not education, but a warehousing system designed to keep teenagers off the streets.

At the time Frey researched the book, the youngest son, Stephon, was already the star point guard at Abraham Lincoln, although only a freshman.

One day Stephon tells of his ambition for the future.
"When I go to college," he says, "I'm going to Syracuse or Georgia Tech. At Syracuse, you play in front of 32,820 people every game in the Syracuse Carrier Dome. And Georgia Tech knows how to take care of its point guards."

Although Stephon reads little, he has memorized the attendance capacity at Syracuse. He knows about Georgia Tech because he is already being compared to Kenny Anderson of the New Jersey Nets. Anderson, another New York high school great, left college after only two seasons to sign with the NBA for $14.5 million.

In perspective, the journey of Charles Barkley from a little town like Leeds, Alabama, to the top of the NBA was like an ascent of Mount Everest without a cadre of Sherpa guides. Having overcome such odds, it's no wonder Barkley assumes his next full-time job will be governor of Alabama.

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Tom Fitzpatrick