Toronto Raptors rookie sensation Scottie Barnes beat out some big names to win the Rookie of the Year award in his NBA debut, as hyped recruits like Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley could not match Barnes’ output. Perhaps all those reps against Drake London as a young AAU phenom helped set the stage.
London, a star receiver at USC who was drafted eighth overall in the 2022 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons, is well on his way to carving out his own nice in the North American sports lexicon. The 6-5 goliath has proven to be elite at leaping into the air to win in contested catch situations.
Before fully committing himself to the gridiron, London was using his lean frame to soar to the rim as a basketball prospect. He wasn’t just stat-padding against also-ran schools, as he revelated that he played alongside marquee names like Barnes.
On FanSided’s Stacking the Box podcast, London was happy to show off his basketball background. London, who played alongside Grizzlies rookie Ziaire Williams, named Barnes as one of the best opponents he faced during his basketball career. Thunder guard Tre Mann was also singled out.
Drake London played against Toronto Raptors star Scottie Barnes.
Barnes averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game while starting every game he played in Toronto’s fantastic 48-win season. Much like the Falcons’ view of London, Toronto thinks that Barnes is capable of being the centerpiece that can carry this team into the future.
While London himself was a 3-star shooting guard who had interest from both USC and Virginia, it seems as though he made the right choice choosing football over basketball. Considering the names he has played alongside, London could have had an outside shot at being mentioned in that same tier if he chose this full-time.
London spoke at length about how leaving basketball alone to focus on football was a very tough decision. If you’re playing alongside names like Barnes and Williams in high school, you’ve probably got some raw talent that the right coach could’ve turned into an elite player.
London’s style of play on the football field shows that his basketball skills have never truly left him. Just imagine an alternate universe in which Barnes is still starring for Toronto, yet is competing with London for bragging rights gaming Eastern Conference rookies. If London stuck with basketball, that could’ve come true.