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FedEx deliveryman predicted Jeremy Lin's fame

By Jim Spellman, CNN
updated 5:20 PM EST, Mon February 20, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • FedEx truck driver Ed Weiland predicted Jeremy Lin's success two years ago
  • Weiland, an amateur sports statistician, chose Lin as the top point guard prospect in 2010
  • He never watched Lin play, assessing him only on statistics
  • His prediction was ignored in 2010; today, Weiland is getting massive media attention

Bend, Oregon (CNN) -- Far from the glamour of Madison Square Garden, aboard a FedEx delivery truck in this small Oregon town, sits the one man who saw Jeremy Lin coming.

"I've always had a mind for numbers, the statistical side of sports," Ed Weiland explained.

He spends his days as a driver for FedEx, but once he punches out, he goes to work at his true passion: finding the best college basketball players in the country. He publishes his assessments on the sports blog hoopsanalyst.com.

In 2010, he chose Harvard senior Lin as his top point guard prospect, when no one else was paying much attention to the Ivy Leaguer.

Weiland never even saw Lin play, basing his assessment solely on stats.

Read Weiland's 2010 prediction

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He breaks out every possible statistic when analyzing a player. He keeps all the information in an elaborate spreadsheet on an old Toshiba laptop in his modest apartment.

Weiland said Lin caught his eye because of his high two-point field goal percentage and his ability to rebound, steal and block.

"If you can do that at a high level in college, it probably means you are a dominant player," he said. "How often your team wins depends on putting it in [the basket] the most efficiently, and that's what the two-point percentage is a measure of."

Weiland found it intriguing that no one else seemed to be paying attention to Lin.

"I look for underdogs, but the player has to be good. I won't specifically say I'm going to find myself an underdog, because Jeremy Lins don't happen every year," Weiland explained. "But when they do, you want to be ready to say, 'This is a guy we should look at.' "

Outside of the online world of "stat heads," as amateur analysts call themselves, no one paid much attention to Weiland's 2010 assessment. Lin wasn't even picked in the NBA draft. He played briefly for the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets, but he was cut from both teams without making much of an impact before being picked up by the New York Knicks in late 2011.

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As Lin bounced around the league, Weiland monitored his progress.

"I kind of kept an eye on him. That's what I do with players like that," he said.

Then one morning in early February, he went online to check some NBA scores and he saw a headline that read "Linsanity." He knew his prospect was taking off. A victory over Kobe Bryant and the LA Lakers kicked Linsanity into high gear.

"After the Lakers game, the original article I wrote went viral," he said.

Jeremy Lins don't happen every year. But when they do, you want to be ready to say, 'This is a guy we should look at.'
Ed Weiland, FedEx driver and amateur sports statistician

Articles in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times have fueled interest in Weiland. His phone hasn't stopped ringing with reporters from across the country. FedEx is giving him time off to handle news requests.

"When I led the 2010 preview off with Jeremy Lin, the idea was that if and when he broke out, there might be some notoriety there," he said. "I obviously never expected anything like this for him or for me."

It's all a bit much for a 51-year-old vegan who tries to live a simple small-town life.

"I'm having fun with it. I'm trying to be careful to be the same guy I've always been, because I did like that guy, and I want to continue to be that guy," he said.

Weiland sees himself as an underdog in the world of sports analysis, just like Lin is an underdog in the NBA. He has never been in contact with Lin but would like to meet him one day.

Until then, he has a message for the young basketball star as he makes his way through the "Linsanity" that surrounds him:

"Just keep playing the way you've been playing."

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