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A More Meaningful McDonald's Game

Normally I like to start the McDonald’s All-American game preview by telling you how last year’s game was our first chance to see future pros and college basketball’s next generation of one-and-done stars. But you will have to forgive me if I pretend the 2012 event didn’t happen.

UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad played in the event last year and led all scorers with 21 points. You know, the same Shabazz Muhammad who lied about his age all these years so he could be playing against younger competition to improve his draft stock.

Cameron Ridley of Texas played in the event last year and he looked like potentially one of the better incoming centers. And then he averaged four points a game for a dreadful Texas squad.

North Carolina’s Marcus Paige played in the event last year and had seven assists. For much of the season Paige’s ORtg was below 90, until a hot final month of the season finally gave Tar Heel fans hope for the future.

Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel played in this game last year. You know, the same Nerlens Noel who didn’t really develop an offensive game until late December. And Noel, despite missing most of the season with a knee injury, is still viewed by many as the least risky NBA draft choice this year.

During Robert Morris’ first round NIT upset of Kentucky, I thought Jimmy Dykes hit the nail on the head with the 2012 group of super-elite talent. He was mainly talking about the three Kentucky freshmen, but the same could be said for many in last year’s McDonald’s All-American game. “Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Willie-Cauley Stein are still being projected as first round draft picks. I don’t see it. Those guys need another year or two of college basketball. There is a huge difference between being draftable and making an NBA roster. If you aren’t careful you find yourself playing in the D-league for a couple of years playing for the Maine Redclaws or the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, staying in hotel rooms with outside doors.”

Hmm, of all the things about staying in a cheap hotel room, the outside doors never struck me as that significant.

But the point is simple. With a few exceptions (Anthony Bennett, Marcus Smart) last year’s class didn’t quite live up to typical McDonald’s All-American game standards. But I am confident that this year’s class will be different. First, the top 2013 prospect Andrew Wiggins is better than anyone in last year’s class. I know this not only because of all the great scouting reports I have read about Wiggins, but also because of what he did on the basketball court against the 2012 class. As a junior in last year’s Nike Hoop Summit, Wiggins dominated. He scored 20 points for the international team, frequently beating his 2012 competition with athletic moves to the basket.

But this class is about more than just Wiggins. Indiana fans annoyed at Syracuse’s overwhelming size in the Sweet Sixteen will be happy to see a versatile Top 10 forward named Noah Vonleh in action. Vonleh will ensure that even if Cody Zeller declares for the draft, Indiana will still have plenty of front-court strength. Florida fans who wanted more close-game decision making this year will be pleased to see Top 10 PG Kasey Hill in action. Hill lacks the size of the Harrison twins (Andrew and Aaron), which might make him a multi-year star with the Gators.

Oh, and if you love or hate Kentucky, you must watch this game. On paper, Kentucky has the top recruiting class of all time. Randle, the Harrison twins, James Young, Dakari Johnson, and Marcus Lee give the Wildcats 6 of the top 20 players in this year’s class. (Sadly 4 of them are on the West team and 2 of them are on the East team. I was really hoping to see 5 future Kentucky players on the floor at the same time for the same squad.)

And if seeing future stars does not provide enough drama, Top 5 prospect Aaron Gordon will announce his college decision during the game. Even if we should probably burn the tape from the 2012 event, 2013 is a true glimpse at future glory.

East Roster

Ht

Wt

Position

College

Barber, Anthony

6'2"

165

G

NC State

Frazier, Keith

6'5"

182

G

Undecided

Hicks, Isaiah

6'9"

205

F

North Carolina

Hill, Kasey

6'1"

180

G

Florida

Jackson, Demetrius

6'1"

185

G

Notre Dame

Hollis-Jefferson, Rondae

6'6"

205

F

Arizona

Johnson, Dakari

6'11"

250

C

Kentucky

Meeks, Kennedy

6'10"

285

C

North Carolina

Randle, Julius

6'9"

225

F

Kentucky

Selden, Wayne

6'5"

225

G

Kansas

Vonleh, Noah

6'9"

225

F

Indiana

Walker, Chris

6'10"

215

F

Florida

Wiggins, Andrew

6'8"

205

F

Undecided

 

 

 

 

 

West Roster

 

 

 

 

Bird, Jabari

6'6"

185

G

California

Gordon, Aaron

6'8"

220

F

Undecided

Hamilton, Isaac

6'5"

185

G

UTEP

Harrison, Aaron

6'6"

215

G

Kentucky

Harrison, Andrew

6'5"

215

G

Kentucky

Jones, Matt

6'5"

198

G

Duke

Lee, Marcus

6'10"

202

F

Kentucky

Martin, Jarrell

6'9"

222

F

LSU

Parker, Jabari

6'8"

240

F

Duke

Portis, Bobby

6'10"

220

F

Arkansas

Williams-Goss, Nigel

6'3"

180

G

Washington

Young, James

6'6"

210

G

Kentucky

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