SportsDay's top 25 athletes 25-and-under: Which rising star takes the top spot?



Cowboys



The D-FW area has no shortage of elite young athletes. Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott has led the NFL in rushing multiple times in his young career. Mavericks PG Luka Doncic is a near lock to grab NBA Rookie of the Year honors this season. Dallas native Jordan Spieth became the second-youngest golfer to ever reach World No. 1 status in 2015. Outside of their Dallas ties, those three all have something in common: they’re all 25 years old or younger.

When you factor in other rising stars — like Amari Cooper, Kristaps Porzingis, Dak Prescott and Miro Heiskanen — and a number of current or prospective Olympians — like Ragan Smith and Ashley Cain — the list of young, elite athletes in the Metroplex quickly grows from a few to a couple of handfuls to way-too-many-to-count.

But that didn’t stop us from trying.

The SportsDay staff came together to compile a list of the D-FW area’s top 25 professional/Olympic athletes that are 25 years of age or younger. Then, more than 15 SportsDay columnists, writers and editors submitted their individual rankings to compile the staff’s finished product: The SportsDay top 25 athletes 25-and-under.

Here are the 25 athletes to make this year’s list, in descending order:

25. Azurá Stevens

Age: 23
Team: Wings
Total points: 50
Highest rank: 19th
Skinny: In her rookie season with the Wings, Stevens emerged as a viable scoring option off the bench and her length caused trouble on defense. She averaged 8.9 points and 1.1 blocks in 20.6 minutes per game and has the potential to be a longtime starter for the Wings.

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24. Paxton Pomykal

Age: 19
Team: FC Dallas
Total points: 62
Highest rank: 12th
Skinny: Pomykal made his professional debut as a 17-year-old for FC Dallas in March of 2017 after signing on to be FC Dallas’ 15th homegrown signee as a 16-year-old. He has helped FC Dallas claim under-16 and under-18 national championships and was a member of the U.S. under-18 national team.

23. Jasmine Moore

Age: 17
Sport: Track
Total points: 88
Highest rank: 11th
Skinny: The youngest athlete on the list, Moore could have one of the brightest futures. Though she’s just a senior at Mansfield Lake Ridge, she’s already stood out nationally. She’s the three-time defending triple-jump and long-jump champ in Texas and her talents may be on display in Tokyo and Paris before she’s 25.

Rookie Jalen Brunson is proving to be a keeper for the Mavericks in limited action

22. Jalen Brunson

Age: 22
Team: Mavericks
Total points: 111
Highest rank: 12th
Skinny: Brunson is one of the very few hits of a Mavericks late-pick draft history littered with misses and could end up being the steal of the 2018’s NBA draft’s second round. He was a proven winner in three seasons at Villanova, starting at point guard for both of the Wildcats’ national title teams.

21. Esa Lindell

Age: 24
Team: Stars
Total points: 119
Highest rank: 14th
Skinny: Lindell is on pace for his best season yet with 9 goals and 20 assists so far this season. The Finn also boasts the top plus-minus rating of all Stars defensemen. Lindell and fellow countryman Miro Heiskanen could serve as the franchise’s defensive foundation for years to come.

t-20. Vergil Ortiz Jr.

Age: 20
Sport: Boxing
Total points: 120
Highest rank: 12th
Skinny: The 140-pounder is one of boxing’s rising stars. The Grand Prairie native is 12-0 in his young career, with all of those victories via knockout. He is currently promoted by Golden Boy and is reportedly fighting on the undercard of the May 4 bout between Canelo Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs.

t-20. Reggie Cannon

Age: 20
Team: FC Dallas
Total points: 120
Highest rank: 11th
Skinny: In 2016, Cannon became the 18th player to sign a Homegrown Contract with FC Dallas. He appeared in 32 games for FC Dallas last season and after serving on the United States’ U17 and U19 teams earlier in his career, he started in his first USMNT game in an October friendly against Peru.

18. Allisha Gray

Age: 24
Team: Wings
Total points: 121
Highest rank: 11th
Skinny: Gray was no stranger to Dallas even before getting drafted by the Wings. She won the 2017 national championship for South Carolina at the American Airlines Center. That great 2017 only continued when she was selected as the 2017 WNBA Rookie of the Year after her first season in Dallas.

17. Radek Faksa

Age: 25
Team: Stars
Total points: 150
Highest rank: 10th
Skinny: The Czech forward rose to prominence as a rookie late during the 2015-16 campaign, scoring three goals in the Stars’ playoff run that spring. Faksa scored a career-high 21 goals for Dallas one season later, and is fourth on the team in goals so far this season.

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16. Ragan Smith

Age: 18
Sport: Gymnastics
Total points: 151
Highest rank: 5th
Skinny: Smith, a Lewisville resident, was the 2017 U.S. women’s gymnastics all-around champion at age 17. She has won 73 medals since moving to North Texas six years ago. She is a five-time member of the US National Team and served as an alternate for the 2016 Olympic team.

15. Ashley Cain

Age: 23
Sport: Figure skating
Total points: 154
Highest rank: 8th
Skinny: In January, Cain and her partner Timothy LeDuc won the U.S. Figure Skating National Championship, their first national title after finishing in 3rd and 4th the two previous years. The Carrollton native will compete at the World Figure Skating Championships in Japan later in March.

14. Jose Leclerc

Age: 25
Team: Rangers
Total points: 181
Highest rank: 10th
Skinny: If you’re looking for the next shutdown closer in Major League Baseball, Leclerc might just be it. He finished 2018 with 12 saves, 58 strikeouts and a 1.56 ERA in 57 innings of work. If LeClerc builds on that, he could be most valuable piece of the roster in 2019.

13. Nomar Mazara

Age: 23
Team: Rangers
Total points: 199
Highest rank: 7th
Skinny: It didn’t take long to see Mazara was capable of big things for the Rangers. He earned AL Rookie of the Month honors right out of the gate as a 21-year-old in April of 2016. Injuries have since limited his production, but the outfielder is among the Rangers’ most dynamic players when healthy.

12. Rougned Odor

Age: 25
Team: Rangers
Total points: 208
Highest rank: 7th
Skinny: Despite a down season in 2018, Odor has provided a dangerous bat for the Rangers, hitting at least 30 home runs in both 2016 and 2017. No matter what happens on the diamond going forward, Odor has already etched his name in franchise lore with his right hook to the jaw of Jose Bautista.

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11. Joey Gallo

Age: 25
Team: Rangers
Total points: 225
Highest rank: 6th
Skinny: It’s been all power since Gallo was called up to the majors in June of 2015. If the Las Vegas native can improve his consistency at the plate and in the outfield, his best days are likely still ahead of him after hitting 81 home runs over the past two seasons.

10. Bryson DeChambeau

Age: 25
Sport: Golf
Total points: 226
Highest rank: 5th
Skinny: DeChambeau, an SMU graduate and Dallas resident, became the first Mustang to win the NCAA individual championship in 2015. He followed up that victory with a U.S. Amateur title later that year. Now a PGA Tour pro, DeChambeau has five PGA Tour wins and is top 5 in the world rankings.

9. Jaylon Smith

Age: 23
Team: Cowboys
Total points: 241
Highest rank: 6th
Skinny: The Cowboys took a chance on Smith after he suffered a career-threatening knee injury in his final collegiate game. Now fully healthy, Smith showed it was worth the risking, becoming a Pro Bowl-caliber middle linebacker and representing half of what is the best young linebacker duo in the league.

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8. Leighton Vander Esch

Age: 23
Team: Cowboys
Total points: 283
Highest rank: 1st
Skinny: It was a rookie campaign to remember for The Wolf Hunter. Vander Esch exceeded all expectation in Dallas, leading the Cowboys with 140 tackles. His efforts earned him a Pro Bowl invitation in his first year. He represents the other half of the best young linebacker duo in the NFL.

7. Dak Prescott

Age: 25
Team: Cowboys
Total points: 307
Highest rank: 4th
Skinny: The Cowboys have won two NFC East titles since Prescott took over for Tony Romo. Prescott is expected to sign a lucrative deal with the Cowboys between now and the end of next season, clearing the way for him to be the team’s signal caller for the foreseeable future.

6. Kristaps Porzingis

Age: 23
Team: Mavericks
Total points: 309
Highest rank: 4th
Skinny: Porzingis may be new to the Metropex, but he instantly became one of the area’s top stars when Mark Cuban traded for him in January. At age 19, he became the highest-drafted Latvian player in NBA history. Once he debuts next fall, he could be the lone Maverick with All-Star experience.

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5. Amari Cooper

Age: 24
Team: Cowboys
Total point: 313
Highest rank: 3rd
Skinny: Remember fans who said the Cowboys gave up too much for Cooper? You’re not hearing that much anymore. The former No. 4 overall pick quickly made his presence known in Dallas after being traded in the middle of last season, compiling 53 catches for 725 yards and six TDs in a nine-game span.

4. Miro Heiskanen

Age: 19
Team: Stars
Total points: 316
Highest rank: 3rd
Skinny: The No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NHL entry draft from Finland has burst onto the scene in his first year playing with Dallas. Heiskanen became just the second rookie in franchise history to be named an All-Star and was the Stars’ lone representative at this year’s All-Star Game in San Jose.

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3. Jordan Spieth

Age: 25
Sport: Golf
Total points: 371
Highest rank: 1st
Skinny: Spieth became the youngest winner on the PGA Tour since 1931 as a 19-year-old in 2013. The Dallas Jesuit product has since amassed more than $35 million in career earnings, winning three major championships in the process. He needs just a PGA Championship victory to complete the career grand slam.

2. Ezekiel Elliott

Age: 23
Team: Cowboys
Total points: 376
Highest rank: 1st
Skinny: Elliott secured his second rushing title in his first three seasons as the focal point of the Cowboys’ offense in 2018. At 23 years old, he’s arguably the best running back in the NFL. The Ohio State product has 4,048 rushing yards and 28 rushing touchdowns in his career.

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1. Luka Doncic

Age: 20
Team: Mavericks
Total points: 388
Highest rank: 1st
Skinny: Doncic has been making history in his first season in the NBA. Having just turned 20, Doncic is currently averaging north of 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists. In league history, only two other rookies have averaged 20 points, six rebounds and five assists per game: Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan.

(Voting methodology: A first-place vote is worth 25 points. A second-place vote is worth 24 points, and so on. The list consists of professional/Olympic athletes that compete in the D-FW area. We did not include college athletes or D-FW native athletes that now compete elsewhere in team sports.)

Original Source: https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/dallas-cowboys/cowboys/2019/03/13/sportsdays-top-25-athletes-25-rising-star-takes-top-spot

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