McDonald's All-American Game in August: Who gets the vote?
Now that the travel season is behind us and a few have already begun their high school classes, we sit back and reflect on what we have seen these past few months along the trail. While there is still some time to go before the mecca all high school all-star games takes place, that is the McDonald’s All-American Game, we take away the politics and throw out all of the excess baggage and take a stab at the 24 entrants that we would select for the event if it were to take place tomorrow. Sure, there are a few that would not be able to compete such as Hamidou Diallo, as fifth year kids are not allowed, but the 2017 class brings a bevy of future NBA pros and college basketball stars that should excite the various fan bases coast to coast.
NICKEIL ALEXANDER-WALKER, G, CANADA ELITE
COLLEGE CHOICES: Committed to Virginia Tech
The wildcard of the bunch, the 6-foot-5 play making guard out of Canada gets the nod. Buzz Williams and the Hokies wrapped up Alexander-Walker back in the spring where the Canada Elite star may be the most talented and skilled prospect that the head man in Blacksburg has ever landed. After leading the FIBA U18 Americas in scoring by averaging over 17 points per game and making slightly above 40-percent of his outside jumpers, Alexander-Walker has more than backed up his case for the all-star contest in March. He has continued to better his game and skillset and is more than capable of playing all three spots in the backcourt which gives insight as to how good he is and can be, along with his versatility on the hardwood.
DEANDRE AYTON, PF, CAL SUPREME
COLLEGE CHOICES: Kansas the leader with Kentucky and Arizona nipping at their heels
Sure, there is some debate as to whether DeAndre Ayton will ever play a minute of college basketball but what isn’t in question is the Bahamian native’s place among the best. He transformed his motor this past summer into something that is actually a strong suit of his while displaying an unbelievable package of scoring from the perimeter on in, to go along with his rebounding and finishing skills in the lane. We haven’t seen a guy like Ayton come along in some time now, thus it being an easy selection for the burger game as he stands the best shot at being called first by Adam Silver at the 2018 NBA Draft.
MOHAMED BAMBA, C, PSA CARDINALS
COLLEGE CHOICES: Hasn’t been a lot said about his recruitment but Kentucky, Duke, UConn, and Harvard with the best chance at landing
A 7-foot-9 wingspan? A 9-foot-4 standing reach? That alone brings you into consideration for the game but Mohamed Bamba is more than just a physical specimen. The long bodied and agile big man is one of the most potent defensive weapons in all of the land. He can guard a ball screen but also retreat and swat away shots at the basket within the same possession of each other. The PSA Cardinals stars has been hindered some by injuries this summer and his offensive abilities remain a work in progress but Bamba is one of the elites of the elite in his class as he is an easy choice here for the all-star contest.
BRIAN BOWEN, SF, MEANSTREETS
COLLEGE CHOICES: Could come down to an in-state battle between Michigan and Michigan State
The strength of this class might not be at the small forward position but that is no fault of Brian Bowen’s. One of the more efficient bucket getters in his class and a guy that can score the ball from all three levels on the floor, Bowen goes about his work in a disciplined manner. He understands where his sweet spots are on the floor, which can be found off of the high post and near the short corner along the baseline region, and due to his added size and length, can get his shot off over any type of defense. The Michigan native has vastly improved his play making skills and athleticism where it looks to be a battle between Michigan and Michigan State for the five-star wing, the latter being the alma matter of his uncle and dunking sensation Jason Richardson.
CHAUNDEE BROWN, SG, NIKE SOUTH BEACH
COLLEGE CHOICES: Down to a final four of Maryland, Kansas, Florida, and Wake Forest
We may be alone here in our vote for Chaundee Brown but really, the kid deserves it. He has outworked and outproduced many of his peers and competitors all spring and summer long. While he still has to solidify his handles, the Herculean-looking off guard has the best basketball bodies that you’re going to find but is the work that he put in on his jumper that really has stood out. Capable of throwing up 30 points on the scoreboard in a blink of an eye, Brown is a two-way producer that can defend different spots on the floor while also scoring it at the basket through contact. Down to a final four of Maryland, Kansas, Florida, and Wake Forest, the Sunshine State native has yet to touch his basketball ceiling, displaying just how good he can be down the road.
TROY BROWN, SG/SF, LAS VEGAS PROSPECTS
COLLEGE CHOICES: Down to a final eight of Alabama, Arizona, Cal, Georgetown, Kansas, Ohio State, Oregon and UNLV
He burst onto the scene as one of the best, if not the best, in his class during his underclassman years. Sure, others have risen to the top but Brown went through an identity crisis as he attempted to prove that he was a jumbo point guard. After grabbing ahold of the gold for the USA U17 crew, Brown has gotten his game back in the right gear and his production has risen because of it. One of the most versatile prospects in all of the land, the Vegas native has some shades of former Arizona star wing Andre Iguodala: not a great shooter but a major athlete that can play make and defend various spots on the hardwood. He competes like a warrior and deserves to be called out of the United Center tunnel in the spring.
WENDELL CARTER, C, TEAM CP3
COLLEGE CHOICES: Likely headed to either Duke or Harvard
The top ranked prospect within the 2017 HoopSeen Rankings, Wendell Carter is the most polished back to the basket big man that we have seen since Jahlil Okafor. He has become a much better athlete in recent months and his foot speed has improved just the same in playing and defending away from the basket. The Peach State native will likely suit up at either Duke or Harvard next year as the high academic and intellectual senior is one of the few prospects that you can throw the ball to on the block and run your offense through without missing a beat.
TREVON DUVAL, PG, WE R1
COLLEGE CHOICES: Can pick anywhere he would like to play, though UCLA has gained traction with Villanova, Maryland, and others involved
While he can be a bit tantalizing at times, there is no questioning the talent level and athleticism out of Trevon Duval. Comparisons to John Wall and Derrick Rose have been thrown around in regards to the Delaware native, comparisons that actually aren’t too far off. His shot selection remains a major work in progress and so is his consistent production on the playing floor. The We R1 star can be as good as he wants to be and at times, we sometimes wonder if Duval is actually bored out on the floor because he is so much better compared his competition levels. UCLA has gained some traction of late with the east coast native but regardless, he has solidified his spot to lace up his shoes at the United Center in March.
QUADE GREEN, PG, PSA CARDINALS
COLLEGE CHOICES: Clear frontrunners of Syracuse, Duke, and Kentucky
While there is a lot of talk about physical maturation, no one has had a bigger evolution as a ballplayer than Quade Green within the past calendar year. The Philly native brings street toughness to the floor but it is his passing acumen that stands out the most. He led the Nike EYBL circuit in assists per game and by a wide margin. It is even more impressive that Green was primarily known for his scoring prowess heading into the spring before changing his identity into being the best passer in his class. Likely to end up at Duke, Kentucky, or Syracuse, the PSA Cardinals product may be the best facilitator in his class and receives his dues as a Mickey D’s invite.
KEVIN KNOX, SF, E1T1
COLLEGE CHOICES: Duke and Florida State the perceived top two with Kentucky, Kansas, and UNC in the hunt
What a whirlwind of a year it has been for Kevin Knox. He announced his name onto the secene as a high energy, athletic power forward last summer playing on the E1T1 17-under squad but has blossomed quickly into a small forward that can produce in any given setting. He helped secure the gold medal at the U17 World Championships in June as his game is perfectly built for international play. A super bouncy forward out of Florida, Knox has improved his catch and shoot game and handles, all the while remaining a major pest around the basket on the weakside glass. Look for Knox to suit up a year at Duke, UNC, Kentucky, Kansas, or Florida State and to further his game in the process before heading to the NBA platform.
BRANDON MCCOY, C, CAL SUPREME
COLLEGE CHOICES: Not much has been said of late but Oregon, Arizona, San Diego State, Cal, and Michigan State among those with the best chance
There is going to be a load of centers voted in here where the strength of the class is found at the 5-spot on the floor. Leaving Brandon McCoy off the list would be a devastating blow where the Midwest native, who has been on the west coast for the past few years, has been down for a bit with a thigh injury but looking back at his career, he has continued to develop his offensive game while remaining very low maintenance. One of the more intellectual kids within the elite crop of his class, McCoy is someone that comes in the throwback variety where he can score over either shoulder in the lane, has excellent hands on touch passes and boards, and seems to produce double-doubles like Crayola makes crayons.
MICHAEL PORTER, SF, MOKAN ELITE
COLLEGE CHOICES: Committed to Washington
Blessed with perfect size and quality athleticism, Michael Porter is a shoe-in for the burger game in April. The 6-foot-8 forward, who is already committed to play at the University of Washington where his younger brother has pledged to and his father recently was hired at, is in contention for the top ranking in the 2017 class. He oozes upside due to his buttery jumper, has versatile scoring abilities at his fingertips, and his nose for the ball on the glass is something else, all of which makes him a potential one-and-done candidate and one of the best small forward prospects that we have seen within the past few years.
BILLY PRESTON, F, HOUSTON HOOPS
COLLEGE CHOICES: Down to a final four of USC, Kansas, Maryland, and Arizona
A bit of a tantalizing prospect but one that oozes talent and brings giant matchup issues to the hardwood, Billy Preston is one tough dude to check off of the face-up. The powerfully built forward would rather play outside than in but he can hit on jumpers to beyond the arc and has the physical tenacity and strength in driving through contact and then finishing amidst the bigs in the lane. USC seems to stand out for the California native, a combo forward type that would be the top recruit to date during the Andy Enfield era at the Pac 12 program.
NICK RICHARDS, C, EXPRESSIONS ELITE
COLLEGE CHOICES: Syracuse, UConn, and Kentucky the top three in the hunt
A major presence inside, some have questioned just how skilled Nick Richards really is. During his time in Los Angeles last month at the Nike Skills Academy, the Expressions Elite product showcased excellent face-up skills out of the mid post and short corner, hitting on a number of intermediate jumpers. He is mobile, active, and very explosive at the basket as an enforcer type with the body that should develop more and more as he matures. Consistent production has been a downfall of his in the past but it would seem that the star out of Jersey has his game headed in the right direction as he gets his call to lace it up at the McDonald’s All-American Game.
MITCHELL ROBINSON, C, PRO SKILLS
COLLEGE CHOICES: Committed to Western Kentucky
Will this be the year that Western Kentucky lands its first ever McDonald’s All-American straight out of high school? It sure looks it. Mitchell Robinson, a near 7-footer that was originally committed to Texas A&M before opting out of his verbal and then giving it right back to former Aggies assistant and now WKU head coach Rick Stansbury, the Pro Skills product is one of the best shot blockers to come out of the high school ranks since Nerlens Noel left his Tilton School abode. Throw in the fact that he has begun to improve his offensive skillset and has a motor than never turns off and Robinson is a fine entrant here for the outing in the Windy City.
COLLIN SEXTON, G, SOUTHERN STAMPEDE
COLLEGE CHOICES: Array of offers from some of the top programs nationally with Alabama perceived as the leader and Villanova, Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma State, Kansas in pursuit
Unbelievable…there is no other way around it. If you would have told anyone last year that Collin Sexton would be a McDonald’s All-American, they wouldn’t laugh, they would actually respond with a, “Who!?” The Pebblebrook High star shattered Nike EYBL scoring records averaging more than eight points more compared to his closest competitor. He has grown further as a well-rounded playmaker after playing alongside a bunch of studs at the U17 World Championships in June. Now someone that can make the proper reads and passes off of the high ball screen and buying in on the defensive end, the elite scoring punch gets the vote to compete in Chicago come the spring time.
GARY TRENT JR., SG, HOWARD PULLEY
COLLEGE CHOICES: Down to a final five of Arizona, Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State, and UCLA
One of the steadiest scorers of the basketball within the 2017 class, Gary Trent will take his talents to the desert this fall in suiting up for the always loaded Findlay Prep Pilots program. After that, expect to see him in Chicago for the McDonald’s All-American Game as the sturdy off guard has become a better athlete over the past year and in the meantime, has rounded out his scoring prowess from 22-feet and in. Whether it is off the catch from deep, two-dribble pull-ups, or post-ups on the block, Trent is a go-to scorer if there ever was one, hence his recognition here among the elite.
JARRED VANDERBILT, F, HOUSTON HOOPS
COLLEGE CHOICES: Down to a final nine of Baylor, TCU, Kansas, Texas, Kentucky, UNC, Oregon, Houston, and Arizona
Vanderbilt has always played a year up and because of it, has been a pretty known name now within the recruiting industry. While he has been hindered some this summer with a foot injury that has sidelined him for the past few months, there is no denying how talented and productive that the Lone Star State native is. One of the best rebounders of the ball, Vanderbilt hits the college realm in a year at the perfect time; he is the ideal, small ball 4-man, a guy that can play make, score at the basket, and defend various spots. His jumper needs some seasoning but Vanderbilt gets his seat reserved in Chicago because of his great three years of play heading into his final campaign this winter.
LONNIE WALKER, SG, TEAM FINAL
COLLEGE CHOICES: Syracuse, Kentucky, and Villanova the top three with the best chance
When Lonnie Walker is feeling it, just watch out because the Reading, Pennsylvania native can totally take over a game. Whether it is on flashy dunks at the basket, long range jumpers, or mid-range pull-ups, the explosive scorer of the basketball can get it done in large amounts on the scoreboard. A bit like incoming Kentucky freshman Malik Monk, Walker leaves you wanting more at times. He is one of the most talented recruits in his class but can still leave some duds out on the court. Consistency has been an issue of his but the basketball ceiling is elite with the Reading High star, a 6-foot-4 off guard that will likely end up at either Kentucky, Villanova, or Syracuse.
MJ WALKER, SF, ATLANTA XPRESS
COLLEGE CHOICES: Maryland, Ohio State, and Florida State the three most talked about
A year ago, we could have been talking about MJ Walker as a potential Under-Armour All-American on the football gridiron. Now focused on the roundball, the Peach State gets the nod here for the top basketball all-star contest. He has really developed his shot making skills while he has the body and the focus to be a versatile defender of the basketball. Scoring through contact isn’t an issue for the Atlanta Xpress star, a 2017 wing that has cemented his standing as one of the best small forwards in all of America as he will likely end up at either Maryland, Florida State, or Ohio State next fall.
NICK WEATHERSPOON, PG, MBA ELITE
COLLEGE CHOICES: Down to a final ten of Memphis, LSU, Iowa State, UNC, Louisville, Mississippi State, Ohio State, NC State, Indiana, and Georgetown; MSU the frontrunner
One of the most explosive lead guards, if not the most explosive in all of the land, Nick Weatherspoon gets his call to the Windy City. The 6-foot-2 scoring weapon is more of a shoot first type from off of the bounce but with shades of some Russell Westbrook to him, the Mississippi native may have one of the best basketball ceilings out of anyone at the guard spot in his class. He does need to show that he can create for others more often but his scoring prowess in traffic and improved shot making from off the bounce is impressive enough where Mississippi State is doing all it can to pair the MBA Hoops product to remain in the state and playing alongside his brother, Quinndary Weatherspoon.
KRIS WILKES, F, INDY HOOSIERS
COLLEGE CHOICES: UNC, UCLA, Indiana, and Xavier appear to stand out
A heralded name since he entered the high school ranks a few years ago, Kris Wilkes has continued to improve his toughness and scoring prowess, while remaining engaged and productive on the glass. Seen by some as a long bodied small forward and by others as a play-making, versatile 4-man, Wilkes is strictly a ballplayer. The Indiana native can score the ball inside and out and while he does need to get stronger and improve his low-block game, his Dirk Nowitzki-like step-back jumper off of the baseline region is as good as it gets when it comes to having a go-to move at this point in one’s career. His recruitment has remained a guessing game but what isn’t up in the air is the certainty of his vote here for the McDonald’s All-American Game.
MALIK WILLIAMS, PF, LEGIT BASKETBALL
COLLEGE CHOICES: Committed to Louisville
Recently calling it a day with his recruitment and giving his verbal commitment to Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals program, the 6-foot-10 power forward is the perfect, new era power forward. He can step out and stretch the defense with the perimeter jumper but has the length and mobility to change and blocks shots in the lane. The Indiana native does need to better his low post game and willingness to play more often down low but if anyone can get him to buy into this, it is the head man at the ACC blueblood.
TRAE YOUNG, PG, MOKAN ELITE
COLLEGE CHOICES: Down to a final six of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Kansas, Kentucky, and Washington
Bursting onto the scene as a freshman with his play on the travel circuit playing with the Pro Skills bunch, Young has always been one to shoot the basketball with deep range and loads of confidence. However, it is the Norman, Oklahoma native’s improved facilitating and playmaking skills that have impressed the most in recent months. He recently nabbed a gold medal with the United Stated U18 squad and when he is relaxed and picking his spots well, if you squint, you can see some Steph Curry in him. Young is a no-brainer here and it would seem that he will likely end up playing his college ball out at either Kentucky or Oklahoma next fall.