While the biggest name for the NBA sect, Nerlens Noel, reclassified to late to be included, the 2012 McDonald’s All-American Game yet again has assembled an incredibly impressive roster of talent.
When Noel reclassified to 2012 from 2013, he displaced Shabazz Muhammad in the rankings of many experts for the incoming college class. As a legitimate center in the mold of those from the 80s and 90s, Noel is the easy frontrunner to go first overall in the 2013 NBA Draft. But Muhammad is almost certain to have the bigger impact collegiately. For Noel, I had him ranked behind Jabari Parker, Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon when he was in the 2013 class in terms of college potential.
Just as the center position has been filled with players who haven’t improved in meaningful ways, or have had their careers shortened or plagued by injuries and have created a dearth of talent, the NBA is similarly lacking in scoring wings with size. Muhammad has the physical and mental tools to replace a Paul Pierce or Manu Ginobili as a top-5 player at the position within the next three seasons. True franchise players are not only the best players on their respective teams, but also the hardest working and Muhammad is that type of player.
Muhammad remains undecided on his college choice and will make an official announcement on April 11th. On a West Team with several players willing to defer, Muhammad is highly likely to make that announcement as McDonald’s MVP, joining the likes of LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Michael Beasley, Shaquille O’Neal and Felipe Lopez.
The up and down nature of an All-Star game plays into the strengths of West teammate Archie Goodwin. Goodwin, a 6-foot-5 Kentucky commit, is a remarkable transition scorer with a tireless motor and could easily be the game’s high points scorer.
Isaiah Austin is ranked third in the class and will attend Baylor in the fall. Even though Austin has a lot of the skills of a wing, it will be interesting to see how he works to make an impact.
Brandon Ashley (Arizona) and Anthony Bennett (Undecided) are facilitators at the power forward position that will grind, even in this environment.
Grant Jerrett, another Arizona recruit, is ranked by some to be better than Ashley, but he is unlikely to show it in this game as he is best suited for a more structured game.
On the East Team, Kyle Anderson and Gary Harris are the top-rated prospects. Anderson may soon be joined at UCLA by Muhammad, while Harris is a Michigan State commit. Anderson is the more purely skilled wing of the two, but Harris is very advanced physically with his strength and how he uses it in attacking the basket. Harris is at his most dangerous with the ball in his hands in transition and his fearlessness (possibly from also being a high school football player) is a rarity for a player his age. Harris is the probably East MVP candidate and should also have a superior freshman season as there won’t be a Big Ten player who can compete with him athletically.
Tony Parker is another Undecided player and one of my favorite 2012 recruits. Parker is a big-bodied power forward that plays both ends of the floor cerebrally. His fitness will be an issue for his NBA future, but Parker has the makings of a dominant college scorer and rebounder from the moment he steps on campus until he leaves.
Alex Poythress is a skilled utility forward that will attend Kentucky and take on a similar role that we saw from Patrick Patterson during his final season when he deferred to John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins.
N.C. State has a trio of recruits in Rodney Purvis, T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis, which will continue Mark Gottfried’s momentum of reaching the Sweet 16.