This exercise started with a list of known quantities: kids we’ve written about in the last two years because their talents were getting attention on the national level. Most famously, there was Bryce Harper, the 19-year-old baseball phenom now in the Washington Nationals system; Dylan Kwasniewski, the 16-year-old racecar driver; and Shabazz Muhammad, the Bishop Gorman senior—our cover subject two issues ago—who is the nation’s No. 1 basketball recruit. We’ve also profiled several other phenoms, including 17-year-old boxer Berenice Hernandez and pre-teen painter Autumn de Forest. (Visit WeeklySeven.com to read all about them.)
A few months ago, upon taking notice of the number of homegrown prodigies, we wondered who else was out there. So we launched the “20 Under 20” campaign to find out. We sent letters out to private and public schools and asked our readership for nominations. We ended up with a healthy number of candidates (more than 40), but what impressed us most was the quality of them. Instead of the expected barrage of stage-mom drivel, the majority of submissions were well-thought-out. Even better, as you’ll see in the 20 finalists, these Las Vegas kids are more than one-dimensional talents; they’re well-rounded contributors to society.
Lastly, we certainly don’t consider this a “Top 20” list by any means. Judging from the ones who didn’t make the cut, there are plenty more out there. And judging from your enthusiasm, there will be a “20 Under 20” encore, so please e-mail your future nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.