The Jump: Sebastian Telfair and the
High-Stakes Business of High School Basketball


In The Jump, one of America's great sports writers follows high school phenom Sebastian Telfair on his quest for NBA stardom - and exposes all that big-time sports in America has become, the good and the bad. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James - all became NBA superstars without playing a day of college ball. In 2004, Coney Island's 5-foot-11 Telfair became the first small player ever to jump straight from high school to the NBA when he signed contracts with the Portland Trail Blazers and Adidas worth $25 million.

Author Ian O'Connor, who followed every moment of Telfair's senior year, draws on exclusive interviews with friends, family members, coaches, recruiters, agents, and players to tell the story of the young star's road out of the crime-ridden projects and into the NBA. And O'Connor brings readers up to date on Telfair's fate in the NBA in an all new chapter.

Editorial Reviews

"One phenom (Ian O'Connor) writing about another (Sebastian Telfair). You want to know why hoops is no longer about the hoop? Read this book. You want to know how America lost the patent on the very game Americans invented? Read this book. You want to accompany one of America's premier sports columnists on a journey into the dark belly of one of its premier games, as seen through the jaded eyes of one of its premier players? Take this trip." — Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, ESPN's "Around the Horn"

"Hoop Dreams takes a wild ride on the Coney Island Cyclone as Ian O'Connor dives headfirst into the world of big-time high school basketball and emerges with a searing and beautifully written tale. No sports book digs deeper into its subject. THE JUMP stands tall as the definitive work on the preps-to-pros phenomenon that has dramatically altered the culture of the sport." — Harvey Araton, The New York Times, coauthor of Money Players: Days and Nights Inside the New NBA

"No journalist in America gets to the heart and soul of sports culture stories like Ian O'Connor." —Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times

"Sebastian Telfair was a secondary-school basketball phenom whom experts rightly predicted would be the next student to jump from public school to the National Basketball Association, following in the footsteps of NBA superstars such as Kobe Bryant and Le Bron James. Here, USA Today columnist O'Connor chronicles Telfair's senior year at New York City's Lincoln High in 2003–04. O'Connor utilizes a variety of voices to compile this book, having interviewed family members, friends, coaches, agents, and recruiters. Considering that Telfair hails from the Brooklyn projects, an area notorious for drugs and violence, his accomplishments are remarkable. His abilities secured him a $20 million endorsement deal with Adidas; in fact, he was a millionaire before graduating from Lincoln High. A good read that basketball enthusiasts will enjoy." — Larry R. Little, Penticton P.L., B.C.

"Anyone who pays attention to pro basketball knows that many of the NBA's best players skipped college and entered the professional ranks directly from high school. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James, all six feet six inches tall or taller, are the best of the high-school phenoms. As a high-school senior, Sebastian Telfair considered himself that group's equal on the court. At an even six feet, though, he was not their equal in size, and if he were to make the jump directly to the professional ranks, he would become the smallest player to have done so. O'Connor, a columnist for USA Today, meticulously chronicles Telfair's senior year at Brooklyn's Lincoln High. It's not pretty. All variety of people wanted to hitch a ride on Telfair's star, including college coaches, shoe companies, agents, neighbors, and NBA executives. Telfair's Brooklyn neighborhood is riddled with gang shootings and drugs. On one side of his street lurks a life with virtually no hope; on the other, riches and fame beckon. Telfair made the jump. He was picked in the NBA draft by the Portland Trailblazers, with whom he signed a multimillion-dollar contract. This is a story of a harrowing journey without an ending. Telfair emerges as a likable young man whose millions, at this point, guarantee him only that others will continue to take advantage of him. This will be the most discussed book of the NBA season." — Wes Lukowsky, American Library Association, Starred Review

"A must-read for anyone who cares about basketball, about sports, or about young athletes trying to come of age." — John Feinstein, The Washington Post, author of A Season on the Brink and Let Me Tell You a Story: A Lifetime in the Game

"Anyone looking for evidence of how the culture of sports has changed (for better and for worse) will find it in Ian O'Connor's engrossing account of Sebastian Telfair's young life." — Bob Costas, NBC Sports, HBO