June 14, 2009

Phenom leaving high school after two years

MLB Draft: Rangers select RivalsHigh.com No. 1 player in first round | Tate first HS player picked

LAS VEGAS -- A 16-year-old baseball phenom dubbed the game's "Chosen One" by Sports Illustrated plans to skip his final two years of high school in hopes of entering the Major League Baseball draft earlier, his father said.

Bryce Harper has registered at a community college where he plans to attend classes in the fall and play next season, his father Ron Harper said.

"People question your parenting and what you're doing. Honestly, we don't think it's that big a deal," Ron Harper said. "He's not leaving school to go work in a fast food restaurant. Bryce is a good kid. He's smart and he's going to get his education."

Ron Harper announced his son's decision on Saturday in Oklahoma City.

Harper, a 6-foot-3-inch catcher whom experts say could be a top draft pick when he becomes eligible, recently signed enrollment forms and a letter of intent to play for the College of Southern Nevada.

Harper plans to take a high school equivalency test and enter the draft in 2010 or 2011, Ron Harper said.

"Bryce is always looking for his next challenge," Ron Harper said. He's going to pursue his education, too. He's going to get pushed academically and athletically."

Harper hit .626 with 14 homers, 55 RBIs and 36 steals last season for Las Vegas High School.

His photo is on the cover of the June 8 issue of Sports Illustrated, along with a headline that compares him to LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball star who received superstar hype in high school before getting picked first in the 2003 NBA draft.

Ron Harper said his son pushed to leave high school early.

"He was thinking about it, he initiated it," the father said. "He said, 'Dad, why can't I take my GED and do this?"'

Players become eligible for the draft at age 16 if they have completed high school.

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