For someone who prides himself on defense and assists, Seth Kraft isn't too bad at bringing the ball to the hoop.

A 4-foot-1 student-coach at Laurel High School in Montana, Kraft was given an amazing opportunity on his 18th birthday, which also happened to be Senior Night for the Locomotives. Laurel's coach, Pat Hansen, gave him the opportunity to play, and Kraft did not disappoint.

Before the game, Kraft said he would be satisfied if he simply made an impact.

"I like assists, and I like playing 'D' (defense),” Kraft, who has dwarfism, told the Billings Gazette. “I will steal the ball if I have the chance. I’m not going to take it easy on them. It'll be great if I score, but it’s OK if I don’t. I’ll be successful tonight if I make an impact, even a small one."

Kraft did much more than that.

In front of a packed crowd with fans holding signs that read his name, Kraft drove uncontested to the basket and put in a layup midway through the first quarter. As one can imagine, the fans went wild.

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As impressive as this play was, it wasn't all that surprising to those who are familiar with Kraft's high basketball IQ.

“He is a modern-day Larry Bird,” Hansen said of Kraft. "He likes to talk trash. But he’s also an incredible kid, highly intelligent and very witty. He takes every possession, every shot to heart."

A similar story involving a student with dwarfism occurred in northern California last week.

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While you might be doing your best to help melt the Netflix server by binging on the second season of House Of Cards and the final batch of episodes for Breaking Bad, here is some lighter fare from the streaming video provider.

The Short Game, a Netflix original, is a documentary about youth golf. Specifically it looks at eight competitors in the world championship of junior golf. They are all 7-year-olds. One is Anna Kournikova's brother, Allan. The tournament helps decide who might be designated golf's latest phenom, but the film provides another interesting study of issues such as family dynamics and competition.

Married stars Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake are executive producers of the film. Here's a trailer:

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Anthony Davis will always be remembered as the centerpiece for one of the most talented college basketball teams ever.

Davis' 2011-12 Kentucky Wildcats went 38-2, won the national championship and produced four first-round draft picks.

And while that team has a lore of its own, in a recent interview Davis said he and some Chicago buddies were initially considering a plan that would have shaken up college basketball in its own right.

The idea, as Davis told ESPN's Bill Simmons during an interview at the All-Star Game festivities in New Orleans, was for several of the top Chicago recruits to commit to DePaul. That included Davis (ranked by Rivals as the No. 2 recruit in his class), Wayne Blackshear (No. 36, committed to Louisville), Tracy Abrams (No. 58, committed to Illinois) and Mike Shaw (No. 59, committed to Illinois).

But, Davis says, one guy in the group was on the fence and committed elsewhere. After that the players disbanded.

If they had stayed together, this would have been an enormous coup for DePaul and one of the most interesting recruiting stories since the Fab Five joined forces at Michigan. As Simmons points out in the interview, Chicago produces some of the country's finest basketball talent but doesn't have a truly dominant college. Davis and his buddies seemed intent on changing that.

Furthermore, if Davis hadn't gone to Kentucky that team surely wouldn't have been as dominant as it was. But by combining forces with Blackshear, who won a national championship at Louisville last year, as well as Abrams and Shaw, Davis would have had a pretty strong group at DePaul. Add in Cleveland Melvin, the DePaul forward who won Big East Freshman of the Year in 2011 and would've been a sophomore when Davis was a freshman, and that's a formidable team.

It also would've significantly boosted DePaul's national reputation. While the Blue Demons have a strong basketball history, they haven't been to the NCAA tournament since 2004 and haven't had an NBA draft pick since Wilson Chandler in 2007.

Davis discusses the plan at around the 16:30 mark of this interview:

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These days it's easy to get caught up in the hype surrounding prep stars.

Young football and basketball players are practically superstars, with tens thousands of Twitter followers and Sports Illustrated cover stories before entering college.

Premature? Sure. But that's the way our sports media culture is moving, and there are no indications that the enormous attention paid to high schoolers is going to change.

With that in mind, we'd like to introduce you to the next high school basketball megastar. His name is Thon Maker, and he's a 7-foot-1 sophomore who is being compared to Kevin Durant. Maker's got an interesting backstory -- he was born in Sudan and spent much of his adolescence in Australia. He grew up playing soccer.

Maker's most recent highlight reel, posted to YouTube several days ago, already has a quarter of a million views.

Need more proof of Maker's unique talent? Check out what some top writers are saying about him:





Yes, it's probably too early to be fawning over a kid who won't graduate high school for two more years. But it's hard not to be impressed by Maker's incredible talent and to wonder what he might be able to do as a pro.

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In the no-holds-barred world of recruiting today, coaches are trying to secure the advantage for their schools in any way they can.

Sometimes that means sending a recruit hundreds of personalized letters. Other times that means making a grand entrance by arriving to a game in the "Swag Copter."

Or, as was the case recently for Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, sometimes that means wrestling a recruit in his living room.

Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald writes that during a visit to four-star offensive lineman Tanner Farmer's house, Pelini presented the high schooler with a weird request.

Farmer, who stands 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds, is a state wrestling champ in Illinois. Perhaps with that in mind, Pelini challenged Farmer to pin him on the coach's home visit.

Here's a humorous anecdote from McKewon's story:

I bet you can't take me down, Pelini joked with Tanner. Farmer hesitated. Pelini is pretty tall and in good shape. But he's not a wrestler.

Go on, boy, Brian told his son. If he wants to go, go.

You scared to take me down? Pelini said to Tanner.

The strongest player in Nebraska's 2014 class got Pelini in a hold and lifted him up in the air. There, a potential takedown turned into a big hug between coach and player.

“It was a cool moment,” Brian said.

Interesting tactic, Bo. Some recruits might be intimidated, but luckily Farmer appeared to enjoy the moment. He signed his letter of intent Wednesday to play at Nebraska.

Ranked No. 82 in the country, Farmer is the top-rated recruit in Nebraska's class this year, so it's understandable why Pelini pulled out all the stops.

Check out Farmer's wrestling prowess:

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A recent trend in college football has seen players finish high school early and get a jump on getting to campus. This allows the player to start taking classes, train with the team and just ease into college life. Perhaps the biggest benefit is that the player can participate in spring practice.

For the first time since Pat Fitzgerald became coach in 2006, Northwestern has such a player. Parrker Westphal, a defensive back/kick returner, enrolled in classes at Northwestern in January as the school began its winter quarter.

"He told me he was ready to go to college when he was a freshman in high school," Fitzgerald said to the Chicago Tribune.

Here is Westphal, who is from the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook, in action:

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Westphal is ranked No. 19 nationally at cornerback by Rivals.com.

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Every so often a football prospect comes around who is so freakishly athletic that playing Division-I football may not be his most impressive accolade.

Take Adoree' Jackson, for example. The five-star prospect, who is considered the nation's No. 1 athlete, committed to USC this week to play defensive back. Jackson is also a stellar long jumper who wants to try and qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Jackson would still be pretty young at that point -- the Rio Games come after his sophomore year at USC -- but he wouldn't be the first gridiron star to go for gold. Jackson would join Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Jeff Demps (sprinter, 2012 Olympics) and Buffalo Bills wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (long jumper, 2012 Olympics) as recent top-tier football players to qualify for the Olympics. Both Demps and Goodwin had graduated by the time the London Olympics rolled around.

"I'm very comfortable with USC's track program because they produce Olympians and I want to go to the Olympics," Jackson told Fox Sports West. "It's my goal (to be) a gold medalist in the 2016 Olympics in Rio so I felt like they can do a great job of getting me there."

Here's Jackson's highlight tape from his senior year of high school at Junípero Serra High School.

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And here's Jackson at last year's state track meet:

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St. Vincent–St. Mary High School is perhaps best known as being the alma mater of LeBron James. But if Dante Booker's football success at the school is any indication, the school can expect another dose of publicity in the next decade.

Booker just received the American Family Insurance defensive player of the year award at the U.S. Army All-American Awards Show in San Antonio.

A 6-3 and 210-pound linebacker, Booker had already won Ohio's Mr. Football award and helped St. Vincent–St. Mary win the Division III state championship.

Rivals rated Booker as a four-star recruit, and he has committed to Ohio State, which happens to be LeBron's favorite college team.

Check out some highlights of Booker in action:

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Friday night in Mesquite, Texas, two of the state's best running backs will clash for a shot at a state championship next week.

Aledo's Johnathan Gray and Corsicana's Cameron Washington, both seniors, will march their 4A DII squads on to the field after a season in which both have eclipsed the 3,000 yard rushing mark.

Gray has made such unfathomable yardage achievements commonplace in his four-year varsity career, compiling 10,425 yards and 183 touchdowns. This season, he's rushed 295 times for 3,435 yards and 59 touchdowns, and while the Texas commit has held the prep national spotlight, his state semifinal counterpart hasn't exactly been a slouch.

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Washington has quietly put together one of the best rushing seasons in the state, carrying the ball 336 times for 3,045 yards and 45 touchdowns. He's coming off a 244 yard effort in which he reached the end zone three times to help his squad top Kilgore 42-21. The effort topped Gray's 199 yards and one touchdown, cut short by a controversial ejection for celebrating a touchdown in a 33-0 win over rival Stephenville.

Tonight's showdown will cap a memorable week for Gray, who was also named the Gatorade National Player of the Year. A third consecutive state championship for Gray and his teammates would cap one of the most memorable prep careers in Texas history. A shot at the first state championship of Washington's career would make just as much news if he and his teammates can unseat Aledo from the throne it has held for two straight seasons.

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Perfection is the holy grail in sports. There is no better way to ensure your legacy than to not lose a game.

In volleyball, perfection is especially hard. A sport built on momentum and point streaks has a way of sneaking up on even the most superior and efficient on the floor.

That's why what Lake Travis (Austin, Tex.) senior Amy Neal and her teammates are doing is so remarkable. The Lady Cavaliers head into Thursday's Class 4A state final four in San Marcos, Tex., boasting a 48-0 record. But that number, while impressive, doesn't tell the whole story. Lake Travis has yet to drop a single set in 2011.

For those keeping score at home, that's 131 straight sets won. If you include last year's state championship sweep of Brenham and the final three sets of a semifinal win over Richardson Pearce, it's 137.

It gets better: Not a single one of this season's sets was decided by tiebreaker. Many of the wins have come against larger schools. And now just six more sets stand in the way of a second consecutive state championship.

"It wasn’t our main goal in the beginning never to drop a set," Neal says. "But the more we kept playing and not losing, we got excited and decided to make it a goal."

And who could blame the team for not coming out of summer practice with the goal to never lose a set? That's the sort of goal that piles pressure fast enough to drown the best of teams.

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"It’s been unreal. I can’t even believe we’ve done it. But the girls have done a good job," says head coach Jennifer Kazmierski. "The goals were to win all of our tournaments, win our district and win state. So [going undefeated] was never something we addressed as a team. It’s something the kids talked about, and that I get asked about a whole lot, but it was never a goal. But if we achieve it? Phenomenal. That would be incredible."

Kazmierski pauses, then continues.

"But with two matches left, I don’t care how we do it, as long as we win."

Lake Travis has won a lot since the 2008 season, when the Lady Cavaliers reached the state semifinals for the first time at the 4A level (there are five classes in Texas, getting larger with each number). Neal, an outside hitter, was a freshman then, making her varsity debut in the playoffs. It was a big stage for a fresh face, but it never seemed to intimidate her. Four years later, the University of Texas commit still isn't rattled by big moments.

One of the biggest this season came in the third round of the playoffs against New Braunfels Canyon. Down 16-7 in the first set, Lake Travis was staring down the barrel of not only its first set loss, but a 1-0 hole to start a match.

"That was the biggest deficit we’ve had this year, but the girls kept plugging away," Kazmierski says. "It just took one big play. Amy had a big kill, and then Sierra Patrick followed with a few more and we were out of it."

Lake Travis went on an 18-4 run to win the set 25-20 before sweeping.

"I called for the ball," Neal says. "I asked for it before the point in our huddle because I wanted to give our team some momentum. I was ready get a kill and help out on the front row. I wasn’t nervous, I was just waiting for us to make our comeback. Everyone clicked at the same time."

That kind of leadership hasn't always been easy for Neal, who has a reputation for leading by example, not by words.

"This year, I made one of my goals to be a leader on the team," she says. "Sometimes I’m more of a quiet player, but I made sure from the start of the year that I was more vocal and picked our team up."

Kazmierski says there's more to Neal's leadership and persona than that, though.

"The coolest thing about Amy is that she leads though her actions, and she never gets rattled," Kazmierski says. "When we get down, she knows it, our team knows it, the other team knows it -- she's going to get the ball and she's going to get it down. She knows how to step up to finish off opponents."

Neal's no stranger to accolades, either. Her club team won a national title over the summer (with help from high school teammates Patrick, Katy Beals and Mackenzie Mayo), made the national all-tournament team, and she was also the state tournament MVP last year.

Neal has plenty of help, with seven other teammates committed to play at the collegiate level. The list includes: Patrick (Texas A&M), Beals (Washington), Mayo (Baylor), Piper Toler (TCU), Kaci Eaton (North Texas), Cassie Wang (Washington University of St. Louis) and Gabby Bienkowski (Great Falls).

"Seriously," Neal says. "They really could all be All-Americans."

If the Lady Cavaliers keep this up, they will be better than All-Americans. They will be perfect.

Follow Max Thompson on Twitter: @maxthompson

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